Andrea Cruz, Southeast Georgia Communities Project
"Understanding the target population is a crucial component in leadership. Success can only be obtained when you put yourself in the position of others and learn how to change your style to fit your audience."
For nearly a decade, Andrea Cruz and SGCP have been building bridges among migrant farmworkers, farmers, local citizens, service providers and legal advocates. In addition to identifying the acute problems Latino migrant farmworkers face, Cruz and her associates have developed an impressive list of responses.
They’ve created a network of interpreters for medical visits; recruited VISTA volunteers to conduct cultural sensitivity workshops for local health department and hospital staff nurses; established a prenatal education program with follow-up home visits for new migrant farmworker mothers; helped create an H.I.V. education and prevention program; developed a legal assistance program through the Georgia Legal Services Project; established an annual farmworker health fair attended by over 1,500 farmworkers every year; and produced a radio program on health and education issues targeted to migrant workers.
Andrea Cruz was one of ten children born into a poor migrant family. As a farmworker, Cruz witnessed and experienced firsthand the poor treatment that migrants often receive. They and resident seasonal farmworkers fall victim to exploitation and such unscrupulous offers as false immigration documents and illegal drivers’ licenses. “Because they seek to have a better lifestyle, they are vulnerable to all these injustices and are later caught up in scandals, and in most cases incarcerated,” says Cruz. “This places them in danger of deportation and in danger for their lives when they attempt to return to this country. In reality, community acceptance is the key for social change in these communities.”
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