Finding the Strength to Teach

Promotoras Program Starts

Eager, but anxious, the nine volunteers sat in a circle wondering what was ahead of them as Promotoras, (female promoters) of domestic violence education in their community. Through the Harriett Buhai Center’s community advocacy training program, the current and former clients of the Center, all Latina, are learning how to talk to friends and neighbors about domestic violence in “an informal and culturally sensitive way and gain leadership and communication skills,” according to Melissa Adams, one of the Promotoras trainers. The aim of the program is to address domestic violence problems through a grassroots approach. The new program offered for the first time by the Center was sponsored by former Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina.

For some of the volunteers who were survivors of domestic violence, the training sessions reopened their mental and emotional scars and helped them confront their own suppressed suffering. This unplanned result will most likely encourage them to find the “animo (strength in Spanish) to share their stories with others who need help,” says Karina Estrella, another Promotoras trainer.

Although only halfway through the training, its success is already evident. One of the Promotoras volunteers, a domestic violence survivor, beaming with pride and joy, showed the group her Mother’s Day gift, a letter from her daughter. In it, she named her mother “her hero for being so strong and going to school.”