2018 Documentary Work

What We Carry || Lo Que Llevamos

In 2018, Student Action with Farmworkers' documentary project featured colorful and creative zines, or booklets, that include collages of photographs, drawings, and quotes from farmworkers and SAF students. The mesh of quotes and visuals, both digital and handrawn, seek to illustrate what farmworkers carry with them, whether it be tangible or intangible. The zines offer a reflection on the connections farmworkers make in the places they work and the places they call home, connections made through what they carry in their minds and hearts every day.

Images featured from documentary work from South Carolina, Eastern North Carolina, and Western North Carolina. Click on photos for a fullscreen image in a new window.


Method

  • During two participatory workshops, 17 SAF interns convened two visits to farmworker camps with 5-20 workers each.

  • In small groups, they talked about objects and photos workers carried with them from home and created new photos, writings, and collages of what they wanted to carry back from here.

  • Students compiled the workers’ collaged pages into zines at their mid-retreat workshop to take back to their second meeting with workers. At this last meeting, they facilitated a discussion with workers about what common challenges they face, how to work together to solve these issues, and what they want people to know about farmworkers.

  • Students received an orientation training in the Literacy Through Photography documentary model, documentary ethics, and photography.

Partners 

The projects were in partnership with the NC Farmworkers’ Project, SC Migrant Education Program, and the Western NC Workers’ Center. In addition to the documentary workshops, workers at the camp in eastern NC were part of a pilot project, Computers and Connectivity, in which we provided computers and Wi-Fi hotspots to increase access to resources and to facilitate communication with families back home to positively impact the mental health of farmworkers.

What We Learned

From our new survey and evaluation system, we learned that:

  • The theme of “What we carry/ Lo que llevamos” was a strong one that people connected to and had a lot to share about. Workers enjoyed the meetings and wanted to have more. 

  • Some issues/needs that workers identified included: the need for jobs, education, legal services, English classes, more support for single mothers, information on unions; issues of workplace discrimination, language barriers, alcoholism, children with special needs, substandard, overcrowded housing with no privacy, long hours and low pay, living in a hotel with no kitchen to cook in, tension among workers living together in close quarters; fears of forgetting their families back home, and long periods of living away from their families.

  • After the workshops, workers reported feeling more empowered to share their personal stories, more connected to other farmworkers, and more pride in being a farmworker; they reported that they learned about issues other farmworkers face, and resources available to them.

South Carolina Zine

"My goal is to help my family get ahead. I have two beautiful daughters and I want to give them the best.”
– Farmworker, South Carolina, 2018

"From different states and backgrounds, but united in the struggle of life.” 
– Students and farmworkers, South Carolina, 2018

Eastern North Carolina Zine


"Courage is waking up every morning to make today better than yesterday.”  
– Farmworker, Eastern North Carolina, 2018

"Thank God for taking care of me and protecting me so that I can help my family get ahead. I make sacrifices to work here in the fields so that I can start a business in Mexico and can stop coming so I can enjoy my family in Mexico."
– Farmworker, Eastern North Carolina

Western North Carolina Zine

"Memory and Love || Strength || Experience"
– Farmworker, Western North Carolina, 2018

"My oldest daughter on her First Communion. She taught me the true meaning of being a mother. Sometimes it’s difficult, but it’s not impossible."
– Farmworker, Western North Carolina, 2018