Tell us about the community that you engage? eg. economic conditions, political structures, norms and values, demographic trends, history, and experience with engagement efforts.
Concern America works in “developing” countries among impoverished communities with (1) few resources to dedicate to health care, (2) rural isolation, (3) language/cultural differences, and (4) often living in regions of war. Within these contexts, the Health Promoter Practitioners, as well as the population served by their work, are mostly campesinos (peasants) and include representatives of several indigenous, ethnic groups. Furthermore, one of the best ways to convey the realities of the community engaged by Concern America is through the stories written by the organization’s field personnel. From Colombia:
"So, in the midst of this [violence], the Health Promoter Practitioners are life-savers and spirit-savers. They can diagnose and treat the vast majority of the infectious, chronic or endemic diseases of their villages and can initiate and motivate programs to prevent them. In the best of cases they can fight the system and get a patient with a serious injury or illness into the hospital. They are a hope for their village and for our world. Because of that very reason Promoter Practitioners can be targets of those who want to see society controlled by those whose interests in health are not at the forefront. And, of course, this is why we support them and defend them.”
Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project
Concern America’s Health Promoter Practitioner model came into existence through years of accompanying communities in Latin America that lacked access to quality health care. How does one develop a functioning, primary health care system in an area where neither government nor private solutions exist? How can local people, even those with only a few years of formal education, be engaged in the provision of their own primary health care and the creation of a local health system that meets their needs? These were the questions faced by Concern America and its field personnel in the early 1980s as it accompanied Guatemalan refugees living in camps in Mexico and Salvadoran refugees in camps in Honduras.
It is during this period that Concern America began training community members to provide primary health care in the refugee camps. Then, as the Guatemalans and Salvadorans returned to their home countries when peace accords were being signed in each country in the 1990s, Concern America continued health trainings in the new communities that they were creating and/or to which they were returning. By the mid 1990s, the Concern America Health Promoter Practitioner model had taken shape.