Guest post by summer intern Liz Sielatycki
Driving around the Eastern NC countryside with the Farmworkers’ Project Community Educator Leonardo Galván is like traveling with everyone’s favorite cousin. Each farmworker camp we show up to is uniquely familiar to Galván, and he can navigate directions to each while speaking miles per minute and never missing a beat. The promotores, lay health promoters that the Farmworkers’ Project trains and supports, greet us with a smile and easy handshake at every camp and it’s clear they feel comfortable when Galván arrives.
We discuss topics to be covered at their next lesson, preparing the promotores for their time to shine with health knowledge that they will teach their peers in upcoming weeks. Topics range from effective hand washing to symptoms and management of depression, all taught by farmworkers using popular education techniques. For hand washing, the promotores use a teaching product called Glo Germ which shows “germs” on their clean hands under UV light to demonstrate that thorough hand washing is more difficult than it seems but is essential in helping protect them from the harmful pesticides they are exposed to daily.
The Promotores program has enabled outreach workers to more easily make appointments with farmworkers and to follow up with patients in camps where promotores live. Jose Ibarra, SAF student intern, has spent his summer as a Promotores Coordinator, teaming up with Galván to train the farmworker promotores and organize their lessons. He states,
The promotores program not only helps us do our job better, it also gives farmworkers the ability to be educated on their situation and take action on what they can do to meet their own needs.
Promotores are often seen as unofficial, volunteer leaders within their camps and have formed strong relationships with staff at the Farmworkers’ Project. They are an invaluable part of the organization’s mission to empower farmworkers to collectively solve problems and gain skills and knowledge to improve their living and working conditions.