Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Viet-Aid Occupational Health Project

Viet-Aid is an organization located in Dorchester Massachusetts whose stated mission is to build a strong Vietnamese American community and a vibrant Fields Corner neighborhood, through Community building and civic engagement, Affordable housing and commercial development, Business and job development, and High quality childcare.

In 2002, Viet-AID partnered with the Dorchester Occupational Health Initiative and researchers from UMass Lowell to begin addressing Vietnamese workers’ health in two sectors: hardwood floor refinishing and nail salons. These two sectors employ a high concentration of Vietnamese workers. Although these jobs and businesses offer lucrative sources of income, they also expose workers to indoor environmental health risks. Conventional products used on a day-to-day basis often contain high levels of dangerous chemicals and toxins. A recent community health survey conducted by UMass Lowell and Viet-AID reported preliminary results of workers in these industries who experienced a broad range of health complaints that could be traced to chemicals used at their jobs.

The Occupational Health Project addresses workers’ health issues through a comprehensive strategy that focuses on research, planning, prevention, intervention, public education, and public policy. They also include community members, workers, and owners in the planning and development process. The project is moving forward by identifying and testing alternative products that are environmentally friendly, safe, and less toxic to workers and owners. Partners in the project are developing and recommending policies and regulations to protect hardwood floor finishers as well as a community education campaign and training curriculum to increase public awareness.

In 2006 I got involved by volunteering as a videographer for the project. I have produced two on-site nail salon interviews, an interview in the home of a consumer that chose to have her floors refinished with water based products instead of oil based products and a training session for floor finishers on how to use water based products instead of oil based products.

Both of the nail salon interviews were used by the Boston Neighborhood Network Cable station as part of a Vietnamese series concerning health issues in nail salons. The series consisted of in studio interviews that integrated my on site interviews to compliment the topic of discussion.

The Natural Nail Salon Video appeared on the Boston Neighborhood Network January 31, 2007. Language was one of the most difficult challenges for me with this project. Not being able to speak or understand Vietnamese made direction and editing little difficult. The other difficulty was shooting the interview while the business was open and serving customers. There was limited room to setup and no possibility for setup that would completely be out of the way for the on going business. Because of this multiple takes were necessary which again made the language barrier more difficult during the editing process.

The Victoria's Nail Salon video appeared on the Boston Neighborhood Network on March 28, 2007. I had the same challenges in terms of language and the logistics of recording around an open business. There was also a time constraint with time for one take of the interview and little else.

No comments: