– Marithza Mondragon, 2021 SAF intern
Before my SAF internship I knew about some of the injustices that farmworkers experience while coming to the United States to work. What I did not know was that everyone comes here for a completely different reason, whether it be to raise some money for their daughter's quinceañera or to simply bring money back to support their families at home.
I also did not realize how young most of these workers were or how long many of them have been doing this type of work. While interning at Access East this summer, I have gotten the chance to volunteer at a massive vaccine clinic where over one hundred workers come from Mexico to get vaccinated and then dropped off at their designated work sites.
My first day at this vaccine event started at six in the morning and did not end until four in the afternoon. My position was at the registration station where I would ask the newly arrived workers screening questions about COVID-19. While doing this I was able to make small talk with many of the workers. Each person that I had a conversation with was in a good mood despite the fact that they had just finished a four-day bus ride, leaving their homes behind coming from one country to another.
Many of the workers that arrived were in their twenties, which is not what I expected. For most, it was their first time coming here and for others, it was just a regular summer. I remember speaking to one worker that was much older than the rest; he told me that he has been a seasonal worker for about twenty years now. His reasoning for getting vaccinated was to have one less thing to worry about.
During our conversation, he emphasized that he was only here to work and nothing else. Oftentimes I have found that workers with this mindset do not realize that their working experience can be so much better. It worries me that many workers do not know much about their rights regardless of their immigration status. But it comforts me knowing that organizations such as SAF and Access East exist to help farmworkers.