ETESC / Guatemala

 

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Mourners place flowers at a memorial for victims of Guatemalan repression.

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Meeting of families of victims of conflict

Equipo Técnico de Educación en Salud Comunitaria (ETESC, Technical Team for Education in Community Health) was founded by refugees of the Guatemalan civil war who returned to help rebuild their country.  Today it has evolved into a community non-profit that seeks revitalization and repair of the social fabric in rural communities of Huehuetenango, Guatemala through legal accompaniment and health access.

Legal Accompaniment

The government of Guatemala guarantees many rights to those affected by the brutal civil war, including financial restitution, health services, and exhumation and dignified burial of loved ones’ remains.  While laudable on paper, realizing these rights is all too often beyond the reach of victims because of language, education and economic barriers.  ETESC provides the crucial “legal accompaniment” that empowers victims to enact their rights.  ETESC staff members speak four local Mayan languages and have close ties with committees of victims throughout the state.  They help individuals as well as entire communities understand the legal process, complete bureaucratic requirements and, where necessary, hold government officials accountable for unmet needs. Overall, ETESC serves as a bridge between communities and government officials so that rights truly create justice and reconciliation.

Health Promotion

ETESC trains and supports a network of rural, indigenous female community health workers, many of whom now have over a decade of experience.  Women in rural communities face a series of barriers to health care including transport time and cost, language barriers, low or no literacy, and time and cost of consult and treatment. As trained and trusted community members, CHWs are uniquely positioned to address women’s health needs as well as help them avoid the high economic costs of seeking treatment outside of their community.

HIV Education

HIV infection is now affecting ever-wider swaths of the population in Guatemala. In response, ETESC developed a series of sexual health and HIV education modules for secondary school students. Dozens of school principals responded positively to the opportunity to integrate this critical information in their school curriculum. ETESC staff have already completed over 50 workshops in 25 schools. Most students reported this series of modules as their first exposure to factual information about sexual health and HIV.

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