It’s that time of year when everyone is writing wishlists, and hoping a few of the items on them might get checked off. Of course, farmworkers are no different. For the rest of the year they often go without, so the holidays is their chance to dream big, as well as to make their loved ones’ dreams come true.
We know all too well what farmworker children wish for – since they tell us themselves in our annual art & essay contest. So, this holiday season, here’s a wishlist for farmworkers – each one conveyed through the poignant words and beautiful artwork of farmworker kids:
1. More time with family
“I don’t get to play with my dad or talk with him because he goes to work at like 4:00 am, then he comes [home] at 5:00 am. By that time, we have church or he’s really tired and goes straight to sleep and I don’t get to play with him a lot. My mom is taking care of the kids so I don’t have anybody to play with and its sad seeing other dads play catch with their kids.” – Abraham, age 11
2. Better housing
“My family moves to three different places in a year and it’s hard. First, we need to find a rent to stay in. Then we have to pack all of our things and leave the trailer just like we found it.” – Itzel, age 12, NC
“We move every couple of months and we cant find a hosue to live. People don’t give us rent because they only allow people to stay for a year or longer but the problem is we only stay about 3-4 months and they don’t allow that.” – Jessica, age 13, NC
3. Better wages
“Being under-paid is revolting if you have a family. Seven dollars and fify cents an hour (10 hours per day) per week, that much money won’t pay the rent or bills. ..My parents need to work twice as hard to get the kind of money we need.” – Elias age 13
4. Guaranteed health & safety for their loved ones
“I worry about my grandma while I’m at school because I worry about her safety.” – Dalilah, age 10
“my dad left in the morning and I thought he would come back but he didn’t, then I kept waiting for him but he still didn’t make it back until it was about 9:00 p.m. and for a moment I thought he wouldn’t come back [at all]. That was one of the worst 15 hours of my life.” – Dulce, age 11
5. A better future
“In my artwork, ‘Dreams Unseen,’ each tomato holds the reflection of [each] person’s dream and portrays a variety of them stacked next to each other. These unseen dreams are what drive these people to work as hard as they do.” – Felisha Cantu
6. More paid time off and sick leave
“I would change the hours that [farmworkers] work. They always get up early and they don’t get paid enough. They lose their sleep and they go to work sleepy. ..they shouldn’t work weekends because they work all of the week. They shouldn’t work every single day because they don’t end up taking time for themselves.” – Pablo, Age 13
‘Sometimes my mom comes home with a broken part of her body but she still goes to work.’ – Adrian, age 11
7. Freedom from fear
“There are many challenges farmworkers face… Their children face the challenge of getting stolen when their parents are at work.” – Bettzay, age 11
“Another challenge farmworker families face is getting arrested and getting sent back home or getting separated from their family. We children fear this because we know… there’s a chance it can happen, but we hope it doesn’t.” – Itzel, age 12, NC
8. Federal heat standard that mandates adequate water, rest, and shade for all workers.
“When I’m in school, I am always worried about my parents. If they are okay or are they overheating. …Now that it’s getting hot… many people are getting dizzy during work.” – Angel, age 9
“In much worse cases they may have cancer, this is due to the sun since being in sunlight for a long time penetrates the body and makes it carcinogenic.” – Evelyn, age 12, Bakersfield CA
“Farmworkers are under the sun minimum 9 hours per day and that is bad. The workers can get dehydrated, skin cancer, strokes.” – Itzel, age 12, North Carolina
“Like other farmworkers, children experience heat-related conditions from intense sun exposure. This includes heat exhaustion, heat stroke, dehydration, and even death. At a young age they may also be less aware of their bodies functions, and thus less able to recognize these conditions when they are occurring.” – Camila, age 11, CA
9. No exposure to chemicals, at home or at work.
“The trailer that I live in has a terrible smell of gas and my mom got sick of all the smell so she went to the doctor. The doctor said to her to get away of the smell so we told our farmer, but he never fixed it.” – Jerardo, age 11
See our related blog about farmworkers, kids, and pesticides: https://afophs.wordpress.com/2016/12/27/children-unknowingly-exposed-to-pesticides/
10. Favorable weather
“The weather can affect the farmworkers’ crops by making the crops die because there is not enough water. Crops can go bad from too much water, too, so the workers will not get paid as much. More crops can grow if the weather is good… so people will have more money to buy clothes.” – Estefani, age 11, MD
AFOP Health & Safety does our very best to protect farmworkers, keeping them healthy and safe for their own sake as well as that of their loved ones, who worry constantly about them. We also advocate for their fair and just treatment, so they can live happy and sustainable lives.
With your help and ours, let’s hope one or two of the things on this list have found their way into farmworkers’ stockings this year.
Happy holidays, from AFOP Health & Safety!