Visualizing the Resilience of Immigrant Women in Denver, Colorado During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Alani Estrella

Name: Alaní M. Estrella
School: Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Class of 2023. Varmus Global Scholar 2020
Mentor: Silvia Cunto-Amesty, MD, MPH, MSEd



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According to the Census Bureau, there were more than half a million immigrants in Colorado comprising 10% of the population as of 2018. Immigrants make up 12% of the labor force in jobs with higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 and are 4 times as likely to contract the disease. The community-based organization (CBO) ViVe Wellness works with the immigrant community in Denver to improve health through wellness programming. We aimed to learn more about the experiences and needs of immigrant women in Denver, Colorado during the COVID-19 pandemic through the community-based needs assessment Photovoice. With the help of ViVe, we recruited 6 immigrant adult women and 9 immigrant or first-generation adolescent girls to participate in this study. We used Photovoice methodology to train participants in ethical photography and to conduct group interviews. The SHOWed method was used to analyze the transcripts for common themes. Through group discussions of participants’ photographs, adults identified family, environment, safety, education, work, information, technology, fear, diet, mental health, and ViVe as important themes during the pandemic. Adolescents identified connection, time, family, environment, technology, resources, safety, space, restrictions, school, and ViVe as important themes. While the groups differed in their perceived difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic, both identified common themes important to their resilience. Interestingly, ViVe’s engagement with the community seems to be a protective factor. Further studies on the impact of the pandemic on immigrant communities and the benefits of ViVe’s model of community engagement are needed.