Mujeres Reaching Out Across Cultures
VIEW . . . the video
Breast cancer can be an uncomfortable topic for a radio talk show. It’s often difficult to find experts who have the medical knowledge to answer calls and can converse in a culturally sensitive way with Spanish-speaking listeners. When the goal is outreach to Mixtec migrant farm workers, there’s a need for translators fluent in medical terminology, Spanish, and the Mixteco language.
Lourdes Oliva Medina juggles all these tasks for the Sound Partners for Community Health project Mujeres al Borde de la Buena Salud (Women on the Verge of Good Health). For the past five years, she’s been host and producer for Radio Bilingüe in Fresno, California, a five-station community radio network that broadcasts into Mexico.
“I’m a person who’s had access to information. I really like it and I know how to use it.” Medina leans in to make her point. The microphone hides her bright red lipstick, but you can hear the fire in her voice.
“When women call the show, I don’t like the frustration in their voices.” She’s talking about immigrant women who have overcome their fears of cancer by listening to her advice—“Toma el control de la propia salud” (“Take control of your own health”)—only to encounter a complicated health care system.
“It made me change the way I did talk shows. I never said it was easy. Unfortunately, the cultural competence problems and language barrier make these women scared,” Medina empathizes.
Rene Hix, Program Manager for the Women’s Health Partnership of the California Health Collaborative (CHC) says Medina is passionate about her work. CHC joined with Radio Bilingüe because the network is well respected and trusted in the community.
Hix explains one way CHC is involved. “I have a Spanish-speaking person follow up to gauge ‘Did patients learn importance of early detection and were they planning on contacting their doctor?’ We also follow up complaints on a weekly basis.” Medina is one step ahead of that. “When they call [my talk show] with such a complaint, I say ‘I’m glad you called. State your mind.’ There are protocols to take.” She tells women that if they have immigrated to the U.S. to find progress, this is part of it—learning to negotiate the system and find the resources they need to be healthy.
“Nobody’s going to do that for them.”
When their Sound Partners project ends, the mujeres of Radio Bilingüe will continue their radio campaign on breast cancer and breast health for the Spanish-, Mixtec-, and Hmong-speaking populations with $25,400 in funding from the Susan G. Komen Foundation. They also received $25,000 from the Women’s Foundation Of California to produce programming on women’s leadership and to conduct radio skills training for women. •
Successful Outreach at the Cherry Auction
100+ Women visited the information booth
98% Were Hispanic
55–65% Spoke only Spanish
75 women received the life-saving message of early detection
—California Health Collaborative
Originally published in Local Voices Vulnerable Populations issue.
Photos by Bob Higgins
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This report (PDF 3.8MB) offers guidance for community organizations and those who fund social change in how best to harness the power of local media-making for community health improvement. Spanish-language version is now available. Una versión en español de este informe esta en la web.