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Alianza staff has been trekking around the country for the last few months delivering trainings for Domestic Violence advocates and other service providers who work with Latino women, men and children. We want to share some of our training experiences.

  • During the first week of June 2010, Alianza was invited to share two exciting days with the staff of the Violence Intervention Program in East Harlem (El Barrio) in New York City. Elsa Rios, Alianza's On the Road to Social Transformation author, with the help of Ivonne Ortiz, now Alianza’s T&TA Project Coordinator, guided the group through the first leg of the journey to becoming culturally proficient. After a nice subway trip and a short taxi ride we arrived at "Casa Sandra," our training site for the next two days. Casa Sandra is VIP's state of the art transitional shelter for women and children. The shelter was named after Sandra Camacho, long-time women's rights activist, who was VIP's former Associate Director and one of Alianza's founding members. She passed away in 2003. Casa Sandra is able to house 15 families. Survivors coming out of domestic shelters are provided with safe longer term housing and supportive services in order to help them break the cycle of violence.
  • July took us to Bowie, Maryland. The Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence hosted our two-day Culturally Proficiency training. The Network staff welcomed Alianza with open arms and helped make our two-day training a wonderful experience. The training participants were an energetic group of multi-racial, multi-ethnic advocates who traveled to Bowie from various parts of the state. We also reconnected with the staff of Adelante Familia, a bilingual program of St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore dedicated to the eradication of domestic violence in the Latino community. During the training we learned that Adelante Familia's Director, Flor Giusti was selected as one of the three finalists to be portrayed in the national campaign "All-Stars among Us" conducted by People Magazine. Being portrayed in People Magazine will bring a huge visibility to the work Flor and the staff do at Adelante Familia on behalf of Latina women affected by domestic violence. Felicidades Flor!
  • Our next stop was Orange County, California for the annual National Coalition Against Domestic Violence National Conference. Alianza's workshop featured a condensed version of our two day On the Road to Social Transformation training. The participants asked questions about the document that prompted the series of trainings, reviewed best practices and learned about Alianza's efforts to help create culturally competent programming.
  • Training3
    On September 9, 2010 the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence hosted their 5th Annual Statewide Conference. A local group from Peru captivated the audience during the luncheon with traditional music as well as other Latin rhythms. Ivonne Ortiz (Alianza) presented a workshop.
    On September 9, 2010 we attended the Indiana Latino Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence 2010 Annual Statewide Conference in Indianapolis. The Indiana Latino Coalition is a statewide not for profit coalition committed to preventing and reducing the prevalence of domestic and sexual violence in Indiana's Latino community. Our workshop focused on safety planning for victims as well as survivors. Alianza believes that our supporters deserve the necessary information and practical tools to ensure the safety not only of victim but also of the advocates. Our workshop was attended by more than 35 participants. Some advocates sat on the floor, while others stood up for more than an hour. iQue viva Alianza!
  • On September 27, 2010 Alianza's Training and Technical Assistance Project Coordinator (Ivonne Ortiz) traveled to the beautiful state of Louisiana to deliver two trainings. She was welcomed by Shelia Cole a representative of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (LCADV). Alianza was invited to present one of our featured trainings: The Advocates' Toolbox. This training was designed for advocates and service providers who are interested in providing culturally appropriate services to Latino victims and survivors of domestic violence.

Our first training took place in Shreveport, a community that has experienced an increase in the Latino population in the past couple of years. Shreveport, located in the northwest section of the Louisiana, is the 3rd largest city in the state and extends along the Red River.

Our host agency was Providence House in downtown Shreveport. Providence House is a resource center for victims of homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault as well as concerned friends and family. It provides short-term transitional housing in combination with an individualized support program including parenting, money management, and life skills development. Our Shreveport training was well attended; around 27 participants enjoyed a full day of practical information presented in a fun and interactive way.

Our second training took place in New Orleans at the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans. CCANO is one of the largest health and human service providers in the Gulf South. They house 45 programs and serve the poor and vulnerable population in the area, regardless of religion, race, color, or economic status.

Once again our training was packed and Alianza was able to provide participants with new strategies and best practices to enhance the participant's existing programming. Participants at this workshop included law enforcement officers, attorneys, volunteers, service providers and domestic violence advocates.

Participants shared their concerns regarding the lack of culturally appropriate services in their area. The most recent state figures from a late 2006 survey conducted by the Louisiana Public Health Institute and the Centers for Disease Control put the local Latino population at just under 10 percent of the city's population, though many who work with the community suspect it is more.

Both of our trainings began with an "Altar Ceremony" where we took a few solemn moments to remember why we are committed to ending domestic violence in our homes and communities. Our new friends placed pictures of their family and friends on the altars, as well as the names of those victims who have passed away leaving a burning desire to make each day count in the fight against domestic violence.

  • On October 27, 2010 Alianza arrived in Reading, PA to conduct our most recent training: Working with Men and Boys to Eradicate Domestic Violence. We were invited by the Berks County Women in Crisis (BWIC) program and the Centro Hispano Daniel Torres of Reading, PA. Reading is located one hour from Philadelphia; it is the fifth largest city in Pennsylvania. I (Ivonne Ortiz) was greeted by Christine Gilfillan, Prevention Education Director for BWIC. During our drive to Reading, Christine and I talked about their exciting partnership with Alianza and the National Compadres Network.
October 27, 2010, Reading, PA--Jerry Tello, (Alianza & National Compadres Network) surrounded by community youth, during the Working with Men and Boys kickoff celebration hosted by the Berks County Women in Crisis and the Centro Hispano Daniel Torres. The event marked the first joint effort between the two organizations to reach out to Latino men and boys. Jerry Tello closed the night with a powerful anecdote about his father's hat: "Inside my father's hat I found my name and my siblings names. He kept inside his hat his most precious possessions.” The story sent a message about the importance of a father in the healthy development of boys.

I was delighted to learn that the Hispanic Center of Reading has been serving the community for the last 40 years. It has been the primary agency that serves the rapidly growing Latino population, which according to the last census figures represents 70 percent of the City of Reading. BWIC is the leading organization in Berks County for assisting victims of domestic and sexual violence and has been doing so since 1976.

This is the first time BWIC and Centro Hispano joined efforts to work on eliminating domestic violence in the Berks County area. They recently were awarded a grant from the Office of Violence Against Women in the amount of $300,000. This funding will allow the organizations to focus on prevention work and include Alianza's Working with Men and Boys curricula as a guide. The organizations aspire to increase awareness in the Latino community about domestic violence and to increase access to support services for Latinas who are victims of domestic violence.

Jerry Tello, one of Alianza's founding members and head of the National Compadres Network and National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute, joined us early the next morning to begin the work with both organizations. Jerry is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of family strengthening, community mobilization and culturally based violence prevention/intervention issues. He began working in communities in the early 1970s and has continued to help strengthen, heal and develop children, families and communities, building on their own internal assets.

Although we had been communicating with the two organizations for a couple of months to make sure that every single detail was taken care of, when we got to PA, we met with the Berks Women in Crisis staff to prepare for the kickoff event and press conference. Artemis Kahl and Ineavelle Ruiz (from the Centro Hispano) gave us an insight into the barriers that Latinos are facing in Berks County. Artemis, who recently received her citizenship talked to us about her connection with the area's undocumented Latino population. "I know how they feel, because that is how I felt while I was waiting for my documents to arrive....They are hard workers that want to provide for their families," she informed us. Christine, Ineavelle and Artemis talked about how the Reading Latino community is changing and how the programming needs to be culturally appropriate in order to be successful. Bravo BWIC!

Artemis Kohl (center) from the Berks County Women in Crisis, with Ivonne Ortiz (Alianza) and Jerry Tello (National Compadres Network).

In the afternoon, we walked to the Centro Hispano for the kickoff celebration. The room was filled with community supporters as well as media. Christine and Ineavelle addressed the group and introduced the men and women that will be heading the project. The group was composed by 12 men headed by Michael Toledo, the Centro's Executive Director and one woman, but after hearing Jerry Tello speak, more people joined the group. Jerry energized the crowd and gave an overview of what the training was going to look like. Through storytelling, Jerry was able to capture the attention of the young and old in the room.

The day of our training finally arrived. Participants starting trickling in slowly and by the time we began, we had a group of 22!

Our training was a mix of storytelling and best practices that kept the participants engaged throughout the entire day. The group was very diverse-from parole officers, teachers, outreach workers and advocates to retired fathers. The men and women that attended the training came out with a better understanding of how important a father's role is on a child's life. Like Jerry said, "girls are hugged four times more than boys every day. We need to make a conscious effort to make a change in the way we are raising our boys if we want to end violence in our community." Our boys and our men need to feel included in the work against domestic violence, it is time to open our communities and walk alongside our strong Latinos that are committed to breaking stereotypes and being an example of what a true Macho is.