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Bilingual Storybook Is Newest Weapon In Fight Against Human Trafficking

Rebecca Plevin
Valley Public Radio
This bilingual 'fotonovela' is intended to educate people about human trafficking.

A local organization has developed a bilingual storybook – or fotonovela, in Spanish – to educate Fresno County residents about human trafficking.

The book is, “something they can take home, use, read, re-read, share it with others, share it with their families,” said Margarita Rocha, executive director of Centro La Familia Advocacy Services, as she introduced the book this morning at the Mexican Consulate in Fresno. “It’s a very powerful tool.”

It’s designed like a comic book, with bright pictures and quote bubbles. But the subject matter is serious. 

Credit Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio
Valley Public Radio

The book tells the story of a 20-year-old girl who is recruited to leave her family in Mexico to be a nanny in Fresno. She’s forced to work very long hours, and is never paid. She eventually reports her situation to Centro La Familia, and her employers are investigated and arrested. Then she attends college, learns English, and submits a visa application. 

Pictures books like this one – along with telenovelas, or televised soap operas - are a popular education tool in Mexico, says Vicente Sanchez, the Consul of Mexico in Fresno.

“The telenovela is part of the daily life. People learn a lot through the telenovela,” Sanchez says. “This Centro La Familia project, through the telenovela, is to show the problem, and spark the attention of many people.”

The publication was produced with funds from the Fresno County Department of Social Services, as part of Centro La Familia’s Human Trafficking Outreach, Education and Awareness Project. Copies of the book can be found at Centro La Familia’s office, and are available to other local organizations.

Rebecca Plevin was a reporter for Valley Public Radio from 2013-2014. Before joining the station, she was the community health reporter for Vida en el Valle, the McClatchy Company's bilingual newspaper in California's San Joaquin Valley. She earned the George F. Gruner Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism and the McClatchy President's Award for her work at Vida, as well as honors from the National Association of Hispanic Publications and the California Newspaper Publishers Association. Plevin grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is also a fluent Spanish speaker, a certified yoga teacher, and an avid rock-climber.
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