Promoting health in the Latino community

Latinos in low-income immigrant communities tend to seek medical attention at the last minute – often, in an emergency room. It’s not because they don’t want to go to the doctor. It’s because they can’t afford it. A lack of health insurance, limited access to low-cost care, cultural factors and language are many times barriers to getting the help they need.

That’s where promotoras come in. They’re health educators, advocates, mentors and outreach workers. They’re effective in their health prevention information efforts because they usually come from the very communities they serve.

In South LA, non-profit organization Esperanza Community Housing has a popular program that since its inception in 1996 has trained and graduated almost 400 men and women promotores.

Juanita Calel is one of those graduates. Originally from Guatemala, she has dedicated her life for the past 12 years to helping others in her community. As a promotora, she gives health classes, goes to health fairs and even does house visits to provide health prevention information all year round.

Like other promotoras, she focuses on breast cancer awareness as the need arises. Calel talks about her passion for health education and the challenges she faces in relaying information about breast cancer among Latinas.