Guatemalan immigrant Patricia Veliz Macal has been working for more than a decade on sexual education and prevention campaigns, especially against AIDS, aimed at the lowest-income groups.

The 44-year-old educator and actress has dedicated herself to working with the Latino communities in Los Angeles County and says she is convinced that "when we learn together, as a community, we learn much more and we see miracles immediately."

Since 1997, she has worked with Planned Parenthood Los Angeles as a program supervisor for the Promotoras Comunitarias program.

"Through this program dozens of instructors go to schools, homes and institutions to give reproductive and sexual health classes ... covering self-esteem, how to speak with your kids about sexuality, values, sexually transmitted diseases, contraceptive measures, HIV/AIDS, alcohol and drug abuse and child abuse, among other things," Veliz Macal told Efe.

The unplanned mixing of her different professions has allowed her "to help people from the most economically depressed sectors to take care of their health and believe in themselves, believe so strongly that they aren't afraid to fight for their dreams," she says.

Eleven years ago, along with other workmates, she wrote the play entitled "La Decision" and devoted herself to giving acting classes and staging the work, which has now traveled around the United States taking to day laborers, churches, schools communities and housewives information on preventing AIDS.

"Our basic mission is to prevent its spread, but if the disease is present we demand respect and we teach people to be tolerant and loving with those infected with AIDS. People can decide to be part of the problem or part of the solution and it's easier to be part of the solution when you have timely information," said Veliz Macal, who in 2010 received recognition from the California Senate for her community work.

The divorced mother of two in 2005 created, along with a team of psychologists, the "Diseñando tu Vida" (Designing Your Life) seminars, especially directed at the Latino community.

"People stop doing good things, often out of fear, fear of rejection, criticism, not giving themselves room to ask themselves what their dreams are, what is it that they want for their life. We have to pose that question to ourselves and go in search of the answers," she said.

On a volunteer basis, she advises a group of homemakers in the Pico Union section of Los Angeles on how to talk with their children, conflict resolution, community organization, learning to listen, how to have better relations with neighbors and how to work in a group.

"I'm the creator of that curriculum, it's my personal mission, to be able to be a vehicle in the transformation of people who need it most," she said.

"In the near future, I will write a book devoted to women, my two children are finishing their university careers and they were accepted for their Masters. I divorced when my kids were 12 and 9, I raised them alone and I'm giving a lot of suggestions to women so that they can do it too, perhaps. I'm not going to change the world, but I'm going to do what I can do for people," she said.