César Chávez Day is observed in the United States on March 31 each year. It celebrates the birthday of César Estrada Chávez and serves as a tribute to his commitment to social justice and respect for human dignity. Around the country, organizations promoted community service, shared resources and highlighted the issues that rural and migrant families face today, including those Chavez was actively involved with centering on worker’s rights, fair wages, pension benefits, and medical coverage.
In the same vein, Esperança, a 51-year-old global health organization hosted a groundbreaking event for the residents of Somerton, Arizona, a small border town often falling through the cracks for quality health services. Held at a Cesar Chavez low-income housing unit, Esperança community health educators provided families with fresh groceries, health presentations and connections to local entities including [email protected], Sunset Health, HOPE, Inc., Campesinos Sin Fronteras.
Maria Valenzuela has overseen Esperança’s Domestic Program for 21 years, supporting over 40,000 Latino families around the state with the resources and services they too often go without.
“During the pandemic it became even more clear that rural families are not a priority in our current healthcare system,” Valenzuela shares. “The César Chávez Day Health Fair is just the start of Esperança’s preventative health programming for the residents of Somerton.”
Widely known in Maricopa County for its culturally competent health education classes, Esperança is expanding focus to rural communities, including Somerton and El Mirage. The classes cover topics like nutrition, physical activity, oral health, diabetes prevention and management, mental health and more, all taught in Spanish.
“We provide services to children, adults and seniors,” shared Valenzuela. “No matter the age demographic, often these families are hearing the information for the first time. Our goal is to bridge the gap in health knowledge and prevent future illness for those who often get left behind.”
Derived from the Portuguese word for “hope,” Esperança has been dedicated to transforming lives since its inception in 1970. Now celebrating 50 years of service this year, globally Esperança works within some of the poorest communities in Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mozambique and Peru, providing health education, food security, disease prevention, access to clean water, ecological home-building and life-altering surgeries. Further, the organization also serves under-resourced families in Arizona through programs such as oral health, chronic disease prevention and management, nutrition, and parent ambassador training. For more information, please visit: www.esperanca.org