Health Promoters are the heart of this ministry. It is thanks to their service that 23 rural communities have access to health care, medicines, and health education.
In light of that, we have prepared a “What does it mean being a Health Promoter?” series! Join us in this special journey full of stories and testimonies from our beloved and dedicated Health Promoters.
In this first part, we share with you an interview with Isaac Fley, Health Promoter in the community of El Socorro, Matagalpa. He is a model of youth empowerment and love for his community.
How did you get involved in community activities?
Isaac: “I started to get involved in community activities in 1993 and 1994, I was really young, maybe about 17 or 19 years old. I started as part of health brigades, I used to walk with the people in charge of the health unit and took them to know various communities. I knew several communities and enjoyed walking with them and learning new things. I started to be one of the strongholds of the brigadistas (community health volunteers) at the health unit. At that time, the health units needed to be supervised. I used to stay there, sometimes for a weekend, I would get there in the afternoon and leave the next day. It was a nice experience.”
Do you remember how your community looked like before AMOS partnered with it? How did the community organize to welcome representatives from the Ministry of Health back then?
Isaac: “Communications and coordinations were complicated due to the conditions. For example, the road. There was a little path that was only accessible during summer, which meant no access to the community during the rainy season.”
“The community has changed over time. When I started, the school was made of straw. Together with the health committee, we began to look for ways to improve it, to make arrangements and changes to the school. Later, it was made of zinc sheets and wood. Improvements continued and changes kept going on. Now, it is uncommon to see houses or places made of straw.”
How many years have you served as a Health Promoter and what motivated you to become one?
Isaac: “I have served as a Health Promoter for almost 10 years now. We started a year later after the first talks because of communications needed and some requirements. Previously, we had been partnering with another organization (that no longer exists) for 5 years.”
“What motivates me the most is helping others and using my knowledge to save lives. After so many experiences, having seen so many cases, that motivates and keeps one alive. We are working towards a better community by striving to reduce their needs and difficulties.”
What have been some of the main difficulties you have encounter?
Isaac: “The greatest challenge is that there are people who do not like to support the work or are opposed to doing the work in the community and are always criticizing. Mainly, they do not see the benefit that is achieved through community work and comment against us with other community members. This is sometimes an obstacle for my work as a Health Promoter because it is threatening our coordination capacity and trust among families.“
“Organization brings development, and development brings change. For some people, ‘change’ is a scary word. For them, it is easier to live with what they know than risking themselves to unknown conditions. In addition, some people think they will lose their authority and position of power in the community. I try to fight this fear by speaking about the benefits of community work so that we can achieve projects and create better conditions for our children.”
What does your family think about you working as a Health Promoter? Do they support you, sometimes get angry, ask you questions?
Isaac: “Sometimes, I have had discussions with my wife. She has asked me: ‘You seem crazy, you are working there even when you do not have the need to be working, to be doing that, you do too much for them’ and it is true. I have helped my community in different ways, they have benefitted with great things, with projects, and still some people talk bad about me, they have even called me a thief. And, that is really hurtful.”
“Whenever they talk bad things about me, I tell them: ‘if I were a scoundrel or a thief, I would be in prison, because scoundrels and thieves are there’ . Thanks to God I live from my own efforts and what I have achieved, I do not live at someone else’s expenses.“
“Sometimes people come, I examine them, and they don’t need any prescription. So, I can’t give them medicines, and they get upset. But, this is about helping whoever really needs it. This is an issue I’m slowly trying to change about my community so people can understand and learn to appreciate this benefit our brothers and sisters from AMOS and its donors are providing to us.”
If at any time you decide to retire as a Health Promoter or decide to leave the community, how would you like to be remembered in the community and at AMOS?
Isaac: “I want to be remembered for the good things I have done. Because when a person is gone, you feel that emptiness and sadness. Sometimes, we do not value the work, the effort that the person puts into something until they have already left. People usually say ‘He was a good person’ until that person has already passed away. I hope the work we do as Health Promoters becomes more valued by the community members, because what we do is not easy, and we do it with love.”
Stay tuned for more interviews from Health Promoters!
Don’t miss this opportunity to get to know more about the people you support throughout the year.