Home is where the heart is. What does this really mean? What does it mean for U.S. migrant and seasonal farmworkers? For farmworkers, home can have many meanings, but overall, home is where family is.
Every year, migrant farmworkers travel from one state to another to harvest the abundant fresh food we consume in the U.S., in order to provide for their families. Many farmworkers migrate with their families or solo. However, with the current immigration reform, the number of farmworkers travelling with their families has decreased to avoid exposing themselves and their families to ICE raids and possible deportation. So, home has become a place in their hearts.
What does migrant housing look like? In many places, growers take pride in the housing they provide to their workers. However, it will never compare with having your own unique place to raise a family. At times, we have found substandard living arrangements. Some might look like abandoned houses due to their serious structural problems, plumbing issues, decayed walls and floors with holes. This allows critter infestation that can result in other health issues such as liver and kidney damage, asthma, and allergic reactions. Migrant housing units are usually overcrowded and shared with non-family members. The lack of privacy and personal space may seem foreign in many of these migrant camps.
The instability of having a constant home when migrating can pose many difficult challenges to the family, specially for the children. The migration experience can affect children’s academic performance, children’s social integration, and their emotional wellbeing.
Despite all the struggles, farmworkers never lose hope. You can see their desire to make things better for their families. You can feel how families fight for a better future. You can see in their eyes how, despite every challenge, family becomes home wherever they are together.
While we enjoy the abundance of fresh food, let’s remember and honor all migrant and seasonal farmworkers that can’t afford the food they harvest and have to live in remote homes far away from their families, sleep in hard beds, and face discrimination and injustice. To each and every farmworker, thank you!
During the week of March 25-31, the entire nation will be celebrating National Farmworker Awareness Week (NFAW). This is a week of action for communities to bring attention to the challenges farmworkers face, as well as to bring honor to the important contributions farmworkers make to our daily lives.
If you feel empowered or inspired to give back to the farmworker community, we invite you to join AFOP’s National Long-Sleeve Shirt Drive held around U.S. You can find the nearest drop-off location to you by clicking HERE! Or look for other events in your area here.
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