California intiative addresses needs of indigenous communities

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -
The California Endowment created the building healthy communities initiative to better address the needs and concerns of the most vulnerable populations, including the Mixteco community in Kern County.
 
"They've been living here for a long time and they've been contributing to the community, so they should not be having to live in the shadows", said Annalisa Robles, Senior Program Manager, California Endowment.
 
The mixtec population are among nearly five-thousand indigenous people living across Kern County. Robles says the initiative works to address health and racial equality in 14 places including South Kern, impacting communities like Arvin and Lamont, where the majority of indigenous people live and work.
 
"These are the people that are doing the back breaking work in 115 degree weather, picking the fruits and vegetables that we all get to enjoy", said Robles.
 
Fausto Sanchez is a community advocate with California Rural Legal Assistance in Arvin. CRLA is collaborating with the California Endowment to find key solutions to helping the indigenous community, including providing interpreters.
 
"We are looking right now as something in Ventura County where they are training individuals to be interpreters.
 
About one-third of California farm workers speak indigenous languages from southern Mexico, including mixteco. CRLA helps indigenous workers with cases concerning discrimination and collecting unpaid wages.
 
 "Often time what we are hearing is that they are living in uninhabitable housing", said Robles. "As we start talking about more and start elevating these needs we can start injecting humanity back in to conversations that are impacting vulnerable  populations".
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