Wow, it has been a hard couple of months. For everyone. For our staff, as we simultaneously adjusted to new routines at home, new ways of working, and new social rules. For farmworkers, more than anyone else, as they struggled to find services and supplies amid all the changes, and worried about having insufficient protections against infection. Farmworkers we know have tested positive for COVID-19; our staff helped them get tested and provided follow-up education and resources. It is hard seeing their fear and being able to help some but not enough. It’s hard knowing other positive cases will follow, because farmworkers don’t have the legal protections they need to keep themselves safe.
But though I started by admitting this was hard, the main thing I want to say here is that we’re really grateful. We’ve received more unsolicited donations and offers of help in the last two months than we ever have in such a short period of time. I’ve had multiple emails from complete strangers telling me they’ve been sewing masks for farmworkers and want to make sure farmworkers get them.
Partner organizations like Episcopal Farmworker Ministry and NC FIELD have helped with large donations of food for farmworkers who were out of work. A restaurant in Knightdale, El Senor, has been donating hot meals for farmworkers multiple times a week. Strangers, as well as perennial donors, have given money for us to buy supplies for farmworkers. Students have offered to help us with fundraising, educational videos, mask-making, and anything else we need. Organizations like Covering the Triangle and the Salvation Army have provided masks and toiletries.
With your donations, we’ve been able to make sure that every farmworker we have contact with gets a mask and basic cleaning supplies. We’ve been able to drop off food at camps where farmworkers haven’t begun work or are in quarantine or isolation because of possible exposure. We’ve purchased toilet paper in bulk to drop off at camps, since farmworkers can’t find it at Walmart when they’re able to go shopping. None of this would be possible without community support.
So thank you to all of you who have donated, reached out, partnered, volunteered, checked in – please know that if my response time has been slow, it’s because we’re still figuring this out. Yes, we are frustrated that farmworkers aren’t better protected by policy. At the same time, we are absolutely, overwhelmingly grateful. Because of you all, farmworkers know they are not alone.