By: Amira Mensah, Development and Communications Associate
This month and every month we honor and celebrate the rich culture, beautiful history, and healing powers of Latinx communities.
“In the Latinx culture we believe “La Cultura Cura” or culture heals,” explains Jenny Calderon, HCN Program Manager and Therapist. The vibrant cultures of Latinx communities radiate love, joy and transformative healing.
On Tuesday, October 13, HCN honored Latinx Heritage Month by hosting a virtual celebration. HCN staff members who identify as Latinx shared their culture and history with a stunning presentation.
Jenny recalled her many trips back home to El Salvador to celebrate the country’s independence. Among her favorite memories are going to the parade, eating the delicious food and being surrounded by her family.
“As far back as I can remember, the sweet, savory aromas of my Papa’s rondon wafting from the kitchen, was as much a part of my childhood as anything else,” said Dora Daniels-Ovando, HCN Therapist. She shared that the food of her Afro-Latinx heritage is among her favorite aspects of her culture.
Dora also taught HCN staff about the Anansi stories. The Anansi stories are folktales shared throughout the Afro-Latinx diaspora. “Both spoken and oral literature are very important in Latinx cultures. Anansi symbolized rebellion and the stories could give both hope and pride to enslaved people in their struggles to survive and their fights for freedom,” explained Dora.
Ricardo Pena, HCN Clinical Supervisor, gave staff an important history lesson about Mesoamerica. “Mesoamerica is the history of the Americas. It’s a history that is never taught in schools. The indigenous populations of Mesoamerica were marvels at astronomy, math, irrigation, family principles and even the concept of flight. The Spanish Conquistador, Hernán Cortés, marveled at Mexico City. He said he never saw such an advanced city or civilization in all the world. Unfortunately, the Spaniards brought their germs, wiping out 90% of the population. If this had not occurred, there would be no United States of America as the inhabitants were too strong to be conquered by force alone.”
As a proud Afro-Latinx, Hosanna Rubio, HCN Youth Coordinator & Case Manager, spoke about her Puerto-Rican ancestry. Herbalism is a big part of her culture as well as many other cultures in the Afro-Latinx diaspora. She explained the integral role herbalism plays in the healing of Latinx people.
Learning, understanding and celebrating our culture is radical healing. As we work to accelerate healing within Latinx communities in San Francisco, we can only do so from the place and perspective of the Latinx culture.
According to Jenny, “The Latinx community is one of many collective cultures that prioritize unity and community. I’ve often observed the mental health stigma within the Latinx community and chose to be a bridge between psychosocial education and culture, in order to support the healing of Latinx families through culturally competent services at Homeless Children’s Network.”