Indigenous Interpreters Program and Cultural Sensitivity Trainings
Due to the injustices that our Indigenous Migrant communities were experiencing in the workplace, health centers and the justice system, for not speaking Spanish or English, the Indigenous Front of Binational Organizations (FIOB), The Binational Center for the Development of Oaxacan Indigenous Communities (CBDIO) and California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA), joined forces to establish the first "Indigenous Interpreters Program" in California. In 1997, the Project of Indigenous Interpreters was founded, which continues to this day , not only providing interpretation services but also raising awareness to multiple sectors (educational, judicial, social, among others) of the presence of our communities, the languages we speak and the importance of providing an interpreter in the correct language. We also make sure that people understand why we have to migrate from our communities of origin and the barriers that we face at places we arrive. This program has trained interpreters who are from our own communities, therefore, they know and understand the difficulties that our indigenous communities face. Interpreters have been trained in the following Indigenous languages over the years: Mixteco, Zapoteco, Triqui, Chatino, and Tlapaneco.
Xi’na Navali (The Children First)
Xi'na Navali is a program focused on the strengthening of social safety nets for indigenous migrant families with children from 0 to 5 years of age. In this program, support groups are facilitated where participants share and receive information about the development and raising their children. It is the bridge to inform about the services available in Fresno County. Workshops are held through the curriculum of Abriendo Puertas. In our workshops, women mostly housewives, field workers from Oaxaca and Guerrero participate.
Through this program we help families with interpretation, reading documents, scheduling appointments and filling out forms. We work in collaboration with other agencies. Families learn how to navigate the health and education system; mainly newly arrived families or those who for the first time are having experiences as parents.
Building Healthy Communities (BHC) Leve le tu Latiezh mas guen (Zapoteco Alto)
Building Healthy Communities (BHC) is an initiative that began in 2010 with the efforts and resources of the California Endowment Foundation. The Binational Center for the Development of Oaxacan Indigenous Communities is part of the initiative since the beginning; our participation has been involving the members of our indigenous communities in the advocacy efforts to make a change in the system and policies that ensure health access to all people who live in Fresno County. Our participants receive trainings on how to hold meetings and present their testimonies to the officials at the different levels of government. The meetings take place in the neighborhood where they live. The meetings are conducted in Mixteco and Spanish.
We collaborate with other local organizations that have the same interest to influence the policies and changes in the system that affect our communities. As part of their development of ability to advocate for themselves; they have participated in legislative visits, public forums of the municipality, sent public comments on the proposal regarding public charge. During the legislative visits their testimonies are given in Mixteco with English interpretation, since the majority of those who participate in our program only speak Mixteco.
With this program we are disseminating the immigration services available to our low-income communities and hard to reach due to language barriers and rural places where they are settled. The dissemination is done through community outreach, media, workshops and forums where they are given information about the rights they have before the constitution of the United States and the changes that are taking place.
We help the community in the process to submit the application for citizenship and Renewal of Deferred Action. Additionally, we work in conjunction with other community agencies and attorneys in the area that have the same purpose.
Promote the culture of our indigenous communities is an important part of our mission. That’s why since 1999, we began to organize the Guelaguetza in the city of Fresno with the aim of preserving and disseminating our culture in California, USA.
The Guelaguetza is a space where different communities from Oaxaca have had the opportunity to meet and enjoy some of the culture that we inherited from our ancestors. At the Guelaguetza event, we can keep in touch with our traditions and remember our hometowns. The Guelaguetza is a celebration that allows us to educate our children about the rich culture of our people and that they can feel pride of our millenary tradition.
In our state of Oaxaca, the Guelaguetza is also known as the feast of Lunes del Cerro and takes place in the last two Mondays of the month of July.
As migrants, we chose to rescue this ancient celebration of our indigenous ancestors to keep alive our culture and traditions in the communities in which we live now.