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All Líderes Campesinas' programs follow the organizational approach explained next.

Organizational Approach

The organization's "way of doing things" adheres to a community development approach based on two principles: participation and ownership. The principle of participation states that large-scale behavioral change requires the people heavily affected by a problem to be involved in defining the problem, planning and instituting steps to resolve the problem, and establishing structures to ensure that desired change is maintained. Similarly, ownership means that local people must have a sense of responsibility for and control over programs promoting change, so that they will continue to support them after the initial organizing effort.

Líderes Campesinas social action projects and health promotion programs are designed to achieve social context changes and normative changes. Thus, the majority of the organization’s projects/programs include a combination of educational, organizational, economic, and political interventions, based on the experiential learning theory—experience, reflection, and action. (The experiential learning theory views learning as a cycle that begins with experience, continues with reflection and later leads to action, which itself becomes a concrete experience for reflection.) Some examples relevant to the proposed project include:

  1. Theatrical Presentations:

    In 1995, Líderes Campesinas developed a folk art/teaching tool in the form of theatrical presentations (dramas or teatros) to communicate sensitive information in a visual, engaging manner to low-literacy (and Spanish-dominant) Latina farmworker women. These theatrical presentations are scripted and performed by the campesinas themselves and are designed to establish confianza (trust) among the audience in order to later engage them in frank and open dialogue. (What is meant by "sensitive information" varies by the issue and/or problem being depicted, but generally it refers to cultural values and beliefs, and behavior patterns detrimental to the quality of life/health of the individual, family, and community.) The skits’ dialogue reflects the actual vocabulary and idioms of the Latina/o farmworker community, and the topic they are targeting. Similarly, theatrical presentations are frequently used to sensitize service providers (for example, community clinic staff or law enforcement representatives) about the stereotypes, misconceptions, and myths that they may have about working with immigrants.

    This method of depicting "real life" experiences through theatrical presentations to raise awareness and provide information is an essential component of the organization’s empowerment, leadership development, and community organizing efforts. It has proven effective for targeting Latina farmworker women with low rates of educational attainment and limited English literacy.

  2. House Meetings:

    These are three-hour sessions, hosted by a farmworker woman at her home which includes a theatrical presentation followed by a dialogue to promote trust (confianza) among participants and a peer-to-peer session focusing on providing information (on topics such as domestic violence, sexual assault, pesticides, labor law, child labor, breast and cervical cancer, etc.) improving self-empowerment/community empowerment, and/or changing attitudes and behavior. These sessions are usually held in the evening and always include a sharing of a meal among participants including the host’s family members. At least once a month a house meeting takes place in each area.

  3. Special Events:

    These are held to take advantage of large "captive audiences" at various community gatherings and cultural celebrations. For example, on the Mexican Day of the Dead/El Día de los Muertos (or Halloween), the organization educates the Latina farmworker community about the symptoms of acute and chronic exposure to pesticides by including public health messages among the offerings on commemorative altars. Health fairs are held as a means of behavior change communication and screening while marches and vigils are a means for mobilizing community action. At least one community/cultural event will be held per month for each issue.

  4. Collaborative Relationships/Cultural Competency Training:

    Líderes Campesinas believes that active involvement (not mere token representation) of diverse private- and public-sector entities is essential to program success. Its projects/programs are designed to place the professional and "the people" on a more equal footing—as partners—promoting a grass-roots or "bottom-up" decision-making process rather than a "top-down" approach where "experts" determine the community’s agenda and new initiatives. For example, collaborating health care providers are expected to train Líderes Campesinas members/staff on the causes, symptoms, complications, and risk factors of certain diseases. In turn, Líderes Campesinas members/staff, train collaborating providers on how to deliver more culturally and linguistically appropriate services to the Latina farmworker community. Collaborating providers are also required to undergo a review process of their written materials by Líderes Campesinas members/staff with respect to format, language, context, and outreach appeal. Moreover, Líderes Campesinas also "broker" the client-provider relationship by building community confidence to seek services from collaborating providers.

  5. Skills-Oriented/Leadership Development Trainings:

    Skills-oriented training is essential to Lideres Campesinas’ program/project design. Training helps members/campesinas (who have little formal education and are limited proficient in English and sometimes even in Spanish, especially the indigenous-language speakers ) increase confidence about their abilities and contributions to community projects and builds understanding of the extent of the problem being addressed, the consequences of that problem, and alternative solutions. Orientation and trainings may take many forms (e.g., weekend retreats, training sessions during committee meetings in the evenings, regional events). Ongoing education yields long-term benefits, including the development of new leadership to incorporate and sustain program efforts in the community.

  6. Líderes Campesinas’ project/program trainings are designed to include the following five training modules:

    Module 1 – Cultural Context: is a two-part training. The first session is a cultural competency training focusing on promoting awareness and acceptance of the values, culture, traditions, spirituality and religion, worldviews, and expectations of the Latina farmworker community among social service and health care providers. The second session is an empowerment training seeking to promote cultural pride among Latina farmworker women and female adolescents as a means for increasing positive self-image and overcoming stigma.

    Module 2 – Knowledge, Attitude, and Behavior: employs a three–stage model of behavior change/leadership development: recognition-commitment-action. For example, Latina farmworker women learn to recognize the causes and consequences of a disease and its related unhealthy behavior; make a commitment to model the desired behavior; and take action by changing the community setting to support healthier lifestyles. It also includes a cultural competency training session on the stereotypes, misconceptions, and myths about immigrants among providers which serve as barriers to service delivery.

    Module 3 – Information and Knowledge: is a two-part training. The "information" session is conducted by collaborating social service and health care providers with expertise on the relevant topic. For example, the causes, symptoms, complications, and risk factors of pesticide-related illnesses. ("Information" refers to what is communicated about a particular fact or subject; something you receive or are told.) The "knowledge" session entails the scripting and performance of a theatrical presentation by Líderes Campesinas members/staff as a means to measure the retention and appli

    Module 4 – Leadership Development through Community Organizing: involves experiential learning of a community organizing process developed by first generation Mexican immigrant women (founders of Líderes Campesinas). For example, step-by-step instruction followed by direct practice experience on how to carry out a house meeting (described below), including determining material resources (instructors, facilities, equipment, and education materials) and estimating cost.

    Module 5 – Collaboration with Other Agencies: training on the "dos and don’ts" of the networking process including specific case studies (and "lessons learned") of current/former collaborating providers throughout California.