Sharing in the Struggle

A group from Los Angeles and a group of pastors from Bakersfield traveled to the fields to visit with Giumarra workers.

Students of the Charismatic Renovation of the Pastoral Region of San Gabriel celebrate the Memorial mass in the Cathedral. Several students participated in the mass as eurchristic ministers, ushers, and in the procession. After the mass the students helped with postcards supporting Immigration Reform.

Category: Archives · Tags:

Intern Blog: A First Visit to a Labor Camp

By Blake Daniel, Duke Divinity Intern

blake-daniel_0.jpg

We pulled up to the ramshackle farmhouse in the boondocks of North Carolina just as the sun was setting. I took stock of the rural imagery as we parked and got out of the car. This sunset is beautiful, I thought – yet my thoughts quickly ran to the farm workers whom we were preparing to visit: Each sunset merely concludes a day of sweltering summer heat. And what beautiful farmland! But would I like to work this farmland on my hands and knees twelve hours a day, six days a week? Indeed, much of the bucolic setting comes at the expense of unrewarded human labor. I couldn’t help but think, How much of this soil has blood in it?

Thankfully my cascading thoughts were diverted as we padded our way onto the front porch of the house. Both curious and cautious, we knocked on the trim of the screen door and peered through the mesh. A smiling face quickly appeared and greeted us warmly in Spanish. Alex’s disposition changed immediately as she recognized Luis, a farm worker from Veracruz, Mexico with kind eyes and a gentle presence. Luis ushered us inside and introduced us to his two coworkers and housemates, who are also from Veracruz and, like Luis, are working in North Carolina as part of the government’s H2A guest worker program.

For ninety minutes, we – Alex, Lauren, and myself – sat in the front room of this old farmhouse, beneath one exposed lightbulb and amidst stifling humidity, and we told stories. Sometimes our stories were of lighter fare – our thoughts on the World Cup, for instance, or on the awkwardness of learning another language – and sometimes our stories focused on more serious issues, like immigration reform and the recent death of a farm worker friend. Since my Spanish is pretty rusty, I spent most of the time listening.

Intern Blog: Building chicken coops and bridges

By Blake Daniel, Duke Divinity Intern

blake.jpgThis past Saturday I learned how to build chicken coops.  No, not long, industrial chicken coops like you see on poultry farms; rather, chicken coops made from two-by-fours and wire, made to sit comfortably in one’s own back yard. 

I learned this as part of a service project we did in Hurdle Mills, NC, at the home of a wonderful Latino farm worker family.  Alexandria Jones, my wife Erin, and myself met up with some friends from all over central North Carolina to put our muscles to work building two chicken coops, both of which can hold at least ten chickens and provide meat and eggs for an entire family.  While working in the hot sun for several hours was very tiring, the group’s enthusiasm, humor, and desire to serve more than compensated for the hard labor.  It was a great opportunity to meet a farm worker family first-hand, to practice Spanish, and to get an inkling of an idea of what life is like for farm workers who work all day, every day, in the hot North Carolina sun.

Forfeiting the usual Saturday sleep-in, Erin and I awoke early to drive to tobacco farm country in Hurdle Mills, NC.  We showed up to the farm property, unsure of who exactly we were helping and what condition their home was in.  But, as we approached the home, we were greeted in Spanish by Francisca, a young mother of four with a patient, hospitable spirit.  She extended a warm welcome and we were promptly invited inside their doublewide trailer to watch Sponge Bob with the kids and drink 7-Up.

As we waited for the rest of our team, Erin and I warmed up our rusty Spanish conversation skills in getting to know Francisca and her kids.  Their hospitality and warmth was staggering.  Erin sat on the couch and chatted with Gilberto, the youngest son, about “Silly Bands,” while I tried to get a better handle on the family’s life by talking in the kitchen with Francisca.  Soon after, the rest of our party arrived, and we began working outside on the family’s two chicken coops.

"What did you eat for breakfast today? Do you know where your food came from?"

by Alexandria Jones, NFWM NC Staff

These questions set the stage for ERUUF’s religious education time for youth on June 6, 2010 led by staff and volunteers from the National Farm Worker Ministry. Young ERUFFians participated in two fun and informative hands-on activities to learn about the men, women and kids who’s hard work in the fields brings the fruits and vegetables to our tables each day.

In the heat of the mid-day sun, the kids participated in the “Sweet Potato Challenge” where they suited up in protective gear, dug for sweet potatoes, and raced back to their “family”. The family that was able to dig the most sweet potatoes in the shortest time was awarded the wages that farmworkers would have earned in the fields for the same work. Needless to say, the group was not impressed with their wages and most left the activity feeling decidedly better about their own allowance at home.

Then, the kids divided into “families” again and put together skits which displayed some of the joys and challenges farmworker families go through on a daily basis including waking up early to cook the day’s meals and coming home after a long day of work to wash pesticides from their clothing.

Overall, it was a great day with lots of learning and fun. Thanks ERUUF RE coordinators for inviting NFWM again this year!

EVENT: NFWM Connecting Communities Camp Outreach Training

NFWM’s Connecting Communities Project training for volunteers will be this Sunday, June 20 from 2:30-5pm at the HIVE (1214 Grove Street, Greensboro). Please RSVP if you’re able to make it.

The Connecting Communities Project’s goals are to:

  1. Locate migrant labor camps in Guilford & Forsyth Counties. (This will help FLOC organizers to identify especially unregistered camps).
  2. Talk about the Census (through the end of June); Survey for farmworkers (July – Oct.)
  3. Begin to develop relationships with those who live at the labor camps for potential delegation visits, connection to local congregations and possible participation in a human rights assessment.

The duration of the project is from June – October 15

The training will include information on the following:

  • A section on “Know-Your-Rights” for immigrants
  • How to use the Census & Survey materials
  • Project Logistics (volunteer dates, teams, and project area)
  • Country driving and the joy of locating labor camps
  • Post-visit reporting, note taking & driving directions

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Alexandria Jones
National Farm Worker Ministry NC
ajones@nfwm.org

NFWM Connecting Communities Camp Outreach Training

NFWM’s Connecting Communities Project training for volunteers will be this Sunday, June 20 from 2:30-5pm at the HIVE (1214 Grove Street, Greensboro). Please RSVP if you’re able to make it.

The Connecting Communities Project’s goals are to:

  1. Locate migrant labor camps in Guilford & Forsyth Counties. (This will help FLOC organizers to identify especially unregistered camps).
  2. Talk about the Census (through the end of June); Survey for farmworkers (July – Oct.)
  3. Begin to develop relationships with those who live at the labor camps for potential delegation visits, connection to local congregations and possible participation in a human rights assessment.

The duration of the project is from June – October 15

The training will include information on the following:

  • A section on “Know-Your-Rights” for immigrants
  • How to use the Census & Survey materials
  • Project Logistics (volunteer dates, teams, and project area)
  • Country driving and the joy of locating labor camps
  • Post-visit reporting, note taking & driving directions

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Alexandria Jones
National Farm Worker Ministry NC
ajones@nfwm.org

Intern Blog: Thoughts from Racial Justice Institute Training with Rinku Sen

by Blake Daniel, Duke Divinity Intern

Blake Daniel, Duke Divinity InternOn Wednesday the National Farm Worker Ministry North Carolina staff attended the Racial Justice Institute Training in Greensboro, NC. The training took place at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, a stunning location that pays tribute to past and current struggles for civil rights. It was led by Rinku Sen, a leading figure in the racial justice movement.

Rinku defined racial justice as “the creation and proactive reinforcement of policies, practices, attitudes and actions that produce equitable power, access, opportunities, treatment, and outcomes for all.” The goal or indicator of racial justice is “equitable impacts and outcomes across race.” We as participants were challenged to think about the different levels of racism (internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and structural) and to brainstorm about how justice can permeate and affect each level.

Intern Blog: Getting off to a great start

NC NFWM internThe first few days of orientation here at the NFWM office for Blake and I were filled with educational activities, training sessions, and thought-provoking discussion about the current state of the struggle for farmworker rights. Some of the topics we learned about include:

  • Cesar Chavez and the start of the farmworker movement: Formation of the UFW; The nationwide grape boycott in the late 60’s.
  • Labor camp working and living conditions: Dangers of pesticide exposure; Dangers of dehydration and heat exhaustion; Abysmal living quarters.
  • The current system of H2A and H2B workers and the issues that come with such programs, for example blacklisting;
  • FLOC and how the NFWM partnership operates;
  • Economic statistics on national as well as NC farmworkers;
  • The significance of tying together communities of faith with farmworker communities

Overall, my first week was engaging, educational, and fun! I am more determined than ever to help our farmworkers attain the rights they deserve.

NFWM-North Carolina Welcomes 2 New Interns!

NC National Farmworkers Ministry 2010 internsWe’re delighted to have two full time interns this summer at NFWM NC.

Blake Daniel is a student at Duke Divinity School, where he is pursuing a Master of Divinity degree focusing on pastoral care. Blake studied English and Spanish at the University of Georgia and, prior to coming to Duke, taught middle school for a year in San Jose, Costa Rica. He is married to Erin and has a Labrador puppy named Penny.

Lauren Kenyon is a senior at NC State University, graduating in December with a BS in applied sociology and minors in Spanish and biology. Two semesters ago, during an international development class, Lauren learned about the struggles of farmworkers. She became hooked on learning more which led her to NFWM through partner organization Student Action with Farmworkers’ “Into the Fields” Internship. “Being a part of NFWM has inspired me to stay connected with the farmworker movement on terms longer than just this summer.”

Category: News · Tags: ,

Planting Seeds for Global Work

crwd.JPGVirginia Nesmith, Executive Director of NFWM, was among the participants at the First International Global Agricultural Industry and Waged Agricultural Workers Conference, held at the National Chavez Center, Villa La Paz, in California. The event, sponsored by the United Farm Workers of America, Oxfam America and Oxfam Nobid, included representatives of farm worker organizations from South Africa, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines as well as Oxfam colleagues from Morocco, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

van working.JPGDuring the three day meeting, participants shared information about farm worker conditions and the work they are doing in their respective countries; drew a “wall” of key moments in their history; heard reports on the globalization of the food industry and discussed approaches to organizing; visited workers in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley and in their homes, and began to identify areas of potential collaboration. The similarity in oppressive conditions and challenges from continent to continent was remarkable, as was the passion to overcome them. Everyone left convinced that just as agribusiness and the food retail industry are global in scope, it was critical that farm worker representatives begin to communicate and collaborate on a global level. The conference planted the seeds for that work, as we opened the door to the future with new knowledge, energy and hope.

CLICK HERE for an article about the Conference (Spanish)

Category: News · Tags: ,

Contact us

National Farm Worker Ministry
P.O. Box 10645
112 Cox Ave., Suite 208
Raleigh, NC 27605
Email us here
919-807-8707 (office)