On Saturday, March 21st, I made the journey to Apopka, FL to volunteer in the Farmworker Association of Florida’s Women 2 Women Conference. This was FWAF’s sixth annual conference and like in the past (I was present at the conference last year) it was an immensely powerful and informative moment. In the midst of all the struggles we face, whether it be labor or identity related, we try to counter and resist it with healing and understanding. For women related to farm work or the immigration struggle, the experience is different and the struggles, although the same or similar to other women, are approached differently. The Farmworker Association of Florida thankfully has filled the void and opened the space for conversation and growing together.
I wasn’t too much a part of the conference. I was volunteering with child care throughout the conference. The initial fear always permeates when the children come in: ‘Will they be comfortable around me?’ ‘Will they cause a ruckus?’ ‘Oh gosh, what are we going to do? There are so many kids!’ But after the ice is broken, the excitement and fun just flows after. I was able to practice my football skills for the Hit the Fields for Farm Worker Justice IV fundraiser with a few of the young ones outside, and learn that I was painfully out of shape! Inside, I was able to create a bond with many young people through bubbles, playdoh hair, and juice. I played the role of test dummy. All these children’s ideas were tested on me. I appreciated the opportunity.
As much learning that was happening within the conference rooms, I was learning so much from these future leaders. I also learned that children are not any different from adults in terms of their behavior! These two siblings entered the room while we were in the midst of chaos. They were extremely shy at first, willing only to stand and observe the action. I made attempts to get them involved through high fives, an offer to draw something, or asking how their day is going. One was somewhat willing to engage, but the other just looked at me like ‘No’. After a while, however, they found their niche and was just as involved in the ruckus as everyone else. Then in an existential moment, I understood: that was me when I first got involved in organizing!
As always, I had an amazing time volunteering to make sure the conference went smoothly. All the other volunteers were in sync, we were able to be in sync with the children. The Holy Spirit Episcopal Church provided the environment once again to learn about others and most importantly learn about ourselves. Whether it be in a peaceful, orderly manner or not, we built something that day with families.
Orlando YAYA, CF Jobs with Justice
Photos courtesy of the Farmworker Association of FL