Written by Octavio Garcia-Ruiz, NFWM intern through Student Action with Farmworkers.
Starting the first full week of work felt real good, I was excited. I finally started what I came here to do. There many new things that were learned, some good, most bad because of of what they were. They were about how farmworkers are treated and how they are struggling. For work I read Close to Slavery which was developed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It was a report that went into detail about the H2A guest worker program. It mentioned what the rights of the workers from the program were, and mentioned how they had been broken. Many of their rights were broken, they are treated worse then dogs in most cases. Having come from an immigrant background and having family that is undocumented, I honestly believe that being undocumented can be easier then being in the guestworker program. Not in all cases, but from what I learned, you can still be deported even if you are here working legally. Rights of humans are violated everyday. With all the knowledge gained, and having learned more about what the National Farm Worker Minsitry (NFWM does, I was to start doing part of what the NFWM does. That is to educate people about the farmworker struggle, and help gain peoples support. Not for us, but for the farmworkers, because we do not do the work for us, we do it for those that are being violated. We want to bring awareness, bring to light the wrongs, and help start the process of correcting them, not on our own, but everyone together. Part of the week from Wed-Fri. we were at the United Methodist Church annual conference to infrom people about what we do and what is going on. We had some people sign up for our presentations, and hopefully with the follow up they are still willing to host our presentation to learn about what is going on. There were many good people there, the first day though, having been a little homesick and being out of my element, I was not feeling up for the challenge. My first conversation was with a farmer, which was not easy, for someone trying to inform a farmer about farmworker struggle is not an easy conversation. The last few days went much better, i felt more comfortable and spoke with some really good people that were legitamately interested in the struggle. I met many that were more receptive. It was harder then I thought it would be, speaking to people about the unfortunate circumstances about 150,000 people is not easy. Some converstations, although not easy but were necessary, were with people that didnt agree with immigration and had preconcieved notions about it. After having finished on Friday, I felt really good about the overall experience and like we had planted a seed in peoples minds and souls that will surely grow, not like the tabacco plants which are in abundance in this region and grow quickly for a plant, but like a tree, that over time has rings growing, one by one, year by year, until ultimately that thought is not longer a seed but a fully grown oak tree.