It has been six years since I last worked in the fields. I would migrate with my family from the Rio Valley Grande in Texas to various states across the Midwest to work in the onion and blueberry fields. One morning, while working at dawn in the onion field, I made a promise. I promised myself that I would finish college and make a difference in the lives of migrant agricultural workers that work the soil of this country and those who make it possible for Americans to have food on their table. I am proud to say that I am keeping true to my promise.
I have been working at NCFH for over a year, developing health education tools that help agricultural workers better understand a health condition or how to get health care services. This October I was given the opportunity to attend, for the first time, the East Coast Migrant Stream Forum in Memphis, Tennessee.
I was able to meet people who work in migrant health, from outreach workers to frontline staff working in a health center to CEO’s whose main goal is to improve the health and well-being of migratory and seasonal agricultural workers. During the three day conference, I participated in the exhibit letting everyone know about NCFH products and services. It was rewarding to see the appreciation that was given to the products and services that NCFH provides to health center staff. Furthermore, it was very rewarding to hear how these tools can really make a difference in the lives of agricultural workers.
Throughout the Wall of Wonder (WOW) session, I along with almost 170 participants explored the issues of access to care for agricultural workers and strategies to increase access to care for them and their families. Participants were able to learn about the AG 2020 campaign , an effort to encourage health centers to take credit for all migratory and seasonal agricultural workers they serve, and how important this is in order to preserve the Migrant Health Program.
Keynote speaker and U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, reminded everyone that we all have a voice that is helping agricultural workers. He motivated us to continue doing the work that we do because it is much needed, but furthermore to keep our voice alive. He talked to us about his project La Casa de Colores, and expressed how this is a house for all voices and encouraged everyone to be part of it.
I found this experience rewarding in many ways. It provided me with the opportunity to meet and learn from others that have been in the migrant health movement. It reminded me that the work that I do day to day is much appreciated and needed. This experience also reminded me about my promise and motivated me to continue helping our migrant agricultural workers.
By: Joanna Arevalo
Left -Wall of Wonder (W0W) Session at the East Coast Migrant Stream Forum 2015
Right- U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, Keynote Speaker at East Coast Migrant Stream Forum 2015
Photo Credits: Joanna Arevalo
The National Center for Farmworker Health
Improving health care access for one of America's most vulnerable populations