In Virginia, language continues to be a barrier for Latino victims of violence in need of assistance. A Richmond nonprofit is seeking to change that.
The Latinos in Virginia Empowerment Center (LIVE Center), a nonprofit established in 2008 to link Spanish speakers with available resources, has launched the state’s first interpreter bank in the Richmond area specifically for monolingual Spanish speakers who are victims of violence.
Each interpreter undergoes intensive trauma-informed training and has in-depth cultural knowledge. The service is free, confidential, and includes in-person services if needed. Other state agencies can also request language access assistance by completing an online application.
“As an interpreter bank, it’s very important for us to level the playing field in terms of the language barrier, which can serve as another power dynamic, especially for victims of violence who are already subject to so many power dynamics—by the state, maybe their partners, their families, or whatever situation they’re in,” said Tomiko Tamashiro Pardo, LIVE Center’s language access coordinator.
Gabriela Telepman, LIVE Center’s community relations coordinator, said there are agencies that want to reach Latino communities but don’t invest in language access, which amplifies the difficulties of navigating the system when not an English speaker.
Telepman said this was a major driver to launch an interpreter bank that offers statewide services and connects a variety of agencies, particularly in more rural areas.
Picking up the phone and seeking help is already a debilitating task, Telepman said. It’s made even worse if the person who answers isn’t equipped to listen, even if those service providers have the resources that are needed.
“A lot of people talk about ‘They were getting mad at me. They’re getting frustrated because I couldn’t speak English’ and that’s something that’s going to prevent people from going back to those service providers,” Telepman said.
But among Richmond’s Latino communities, where word of mouth is a major source of information, LIVE Center has become a trusted go-to for help.
Telepman said she has heard community members recommend the center, saying things like, “Call this advocate. She helped me through my issues. She could help you, too.”
Read Full Article from Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA) (06/01/21)
Author: Moreno, Sabrina
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