As one promoter trained by EPES relates, "In our neighborhood there was a soldier with camouflage paint on his face every 100 yards, every night for years!
Transition and Social Demobilization: EPES Meets New Challenges
"The dictatorship was not just a change of government, but something much deeper," says Maria Eugenia Calvin of the EPES staff.
This new period has been particularly difficult for EPES. Not only has the original context that motivated their work changed, but also the international solidarity that once supported many projects in the poorer neighborhoods has been affected as well.
In Concepcion where the second EPES team is headquartered, cultural phenomena tend to arrive a few years later.
EPES continues to work in community action starting with problems identified by members of the community and the health promoters.
In these alliances, EPES works patiently and systematically to motivate a broad range of people, obtain their commitments for specific actions and bring together groups and individuals who may not have been in touch with each other before.
Despite the changes in context, EPES still firmly believes in social organization to promote health.
Another important focus of EPES' work is primary care clinics along with the city health departments which are responsible for running them.
Public discussion of the reform is just beginning, and the EPES team has found it hard to incorporate people into the debates.
Nevertheless, the future strategy of EPES includes a firm commitment to a local focus based on the right to health and to keeping the spirit of community participation alive through work with the health groups, other organizations and the thematic networks.
The current context - of increasing globalization, privatization of health services and greater inequalities - also is forcing EPES to get involved in global debates about health and community participation and to forge new links with community organizations working in health around the region.