Natalia Morales, 2021 SAF intern
NC Farmworkers' Project
My name is Natalia Morales, and I am working with the North Carolina Farmworkers Project (NCFWP) this summer in Whiteville, NC. I was born in Bogotá, Colombia. My parents and I moved here when I was very young, only about a year old. I come from where we inhale the clouds every morning quickly followed by the sweetest taste of Aguapanela. Colombia was not a faint memory for me, but rather a puzzle I scrambled to assemble. I pieced together the story of mi abuelito, how he was a campesino on a small plot of land our family lived on. And another story of how my mother and her siblings slowly made their way to Bogotá. I am lucky to have mi abuelito’s ruana, handmade of wool, to help to complete the picture of him en el campo with la ruana pushed over his left shoulder.
We moved from the Andes, about 2,640 meters above sea level, and eventually settled in a rural area in upstate New York surrounded by an apple orchard. The apples seemed as big as my head, and I found myself at home when hiding along what felt like endless rows of trees. At the time, I saw the rows of trees as playgrounds to climb and mazes to cross. However, mi papá me contó una historia sobre cuando él empezó hablar con los trabajadores del campo y las condiciones del trabajo. Me contó de una vez que le contaron que les pagaban in single dollar bills or change to make the pay seem slightly larger than it really amounted to. This is one of my first memories of agricultural workers in the U.S., and it took many more years for me to truly understand the history and systemic issues influencing agricultural work to this day.
At NCFWP, I will have the opportunity to participate in helping with the free mobile health clinic, case management to meet the health needs of patients, and the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination clinics. My interest in health and healthcare equity, particularly in the Latinx community, began through my own experience in healthcare, acting as a language and cultural translator for myself and my parents in what often felt like a role as a mediator as well. These experiences led me to SAF, as I learned more about the particular systems affecting farmworker health disparities. As the summer begins, I’m looking forward to listening to more farmworkers’ stories and working with them to connect to health resources.