Each day, the team brings back stories of their work, and some days they even bring evidence. Hundreds of bedbugs from just one bed is cause for disgust, but also points to the need for projects like this one.
The Bedbug Project, called “Chinches no Mas” is a combination of education and support in the treatment and prevention of bedbugs in at least 40 low-income Monument residences by June 2011. We do not use any pesticides, and instead we teach the residents how to inspect their own homes and prevent new or re-infestations. Seven members of the Day Labor program and Nati Flores began training on Monday March 7th. The training took members from the anatomy of bedbugs and techniques for handling an infestation to hands-on field testing. In addition, trainer Ray Lopez led the participants though a day of promoting the service among Monument community residents.
|Thousands of bedbugs from|
just one bed.
After finishing the training, the members broke into teams of 3 to begin taking on clients. March 17th marked the launch of the project, but very quickly they found a huge obstacle: most people will not readily admit to having bedbugs. The stigma attached to having bedbugs kept many silent, fearing that they might be judged as being dirty and unsanitary. Therefore the members of this project must able to communicate and relate to the residents we are helping.
Initially just a couple of residents took advantage of the service. They were fed up with bedbugs and ready to learn how to keep the pests away. Seeing their peers confess to having infestations, slowly but surely others came to “Chinches no Mas” for help.
Less than two weeks later, the project was well underway completing fourteen units by the end of March. Appointments have now booked up Monday through Friday peaking at a steady 18 units each week – a number to easily sustain the working members of the project at a living wage. Those numbers also show the demand and need to work on the growing number of infestations.
The community outreach about the issue of bedbugs in the Monument Corridor along with the diminishing the stigmas of bedbugs have proven crucial to the success of this project. And still, their outreach efforts continue as word of the service spreads.
The benefits of the project have been numerous. Not only have more than forty units been freed of bedbugs to date, but the members of “Chinches no Mas” have also been able to find steady work at a living wage. The project, funded by grant money, has brought valuable education, stigmas removed, better living standards, and much needed work opportunities to the Monument community.