– Alejandra Araiza Mendoza, 2021 SAF intern
NC Farmworkers' Project
During my time in the fields, the biggest issue that I witnessed was oppression. Sadly, workers are still the victims of growers' oppression despite all of the achievements that we have been able to make. Much of the mistrust and complications workers face with being able to communicate and create boundaries with growers is due to intimidation. Some workers did not want to be seen talking to us out of fear of the trouble that they could get into with growers.
There was one occasion where we were not able to vaccinate workers due to the grower's intimidation and not wanting them to get the vaccine even though many of them had already said they wanted to get the shot. As an intern, it was very sad and frustrating to see this happen and not be able to do as much as I would like to because I did not want to get the workers in trouble.
There were times where I would come back from outreach and sit in my car and break down because I could simply not believe how these workers were living. However, I was able to find ways to help. I became an advocate and talked to the growers about the hard work that these men were doing. I communicated workers' health needs to the growers when they could not do it themselves. I helped with mobile clinics throughout the internship which brought medical care to the camps at no cost and greatly benefitted the workers. Finally, my participation in SAF really helped me in order to understand more about issues that farmworkers face and how else I could help the farmworker community and make an impact.