Friday, March 8, 2013

Day two!

Second day of marching and we are still smiling!!! Here is the group with our friend Luna after marching 25 miles the past two days and we still have 6 more miles to go for the day before we return to Immokalee!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

We Are Marching.... Siyahumba

We began our two days of marching against Publix in solidarity with the CIW and allies from North Porth to Sarasota,FL. Here is Lauren dancing while she marches...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Coffee and Bread

When waking up at 4:30am, we were not sure what this morning would entail. Upon arriving, we were given the duties to pass out coffee and pastries to spread the word about the March against Publix. A variety of farmworkers came to get the coffee and pastries in front of the Coalition office before they loaded the buses to begin their work day. Each farmworker was very grateful for the food and coffee, just as we were grateful to have this experience. We were handing out the pastries when one of the farmworkers came up and took two. I knew that he shouldn't but I wasn't sure what to say, especially since I did not speak spanish. The guy behind him came up to me and said you have to tell them they can only take one or else they will try to take advantage of the situation. It was surprising the amount of farmworkers as well as the variety of ethnicities present. Farmworkers come from Mexico, Haiti, and Guatemala typically. This variety of individuals built a language barrier. It was difficult to know what language each person spoke, which made communicating difficult. However, we learned that a friendly smile is part of a universal language.

By: Lauren Grabowski

I think I hear a rooster crowing,,,,

Students got up at 4:30am and headed over to CIW headquarters. Here are students passing out bread and coffee with CIW staffer. Nelly as a promotion for the upcoming meeting and march.

Eyes and Ears and Open Heart

Eyes and Ears and an Open Heart

In the beginning, we weren't too sure what to expect, what we were doing, or even why we were here in Immokalee. This morning we were presented with the opportunity to tour the CIW office, see the neighborhood workers live in, appreciate the harsh living conditions the workers survive in, all guided by Sylvia. Sylvia works with the CIW and explained to us the history of the organization and some of the hardships the workers face. While in the CIW headquarters, she explained how there were several services available to farmworkers and their families. Some of these services include a small non-profit grocery store where the farmworkers can purchase food at affordable prices, only paying tax. They also provide a safe area where families can gather to enjoy movies, company, and simply relax in a safe, comfortable, environment.
While Sylvia explained the in's and out's of the CIW, she included a lot of the history of the coalition, how it was founded, and the workers. She mentioned how the workers realized that they were not making fair wages and they researched where most of the money was going. After some research, they found that most of the profits were going to the corporations that were purchasing the produce, not the workers nor the owners. We found it truly amazing and inspiring that these determined workers had the knowledge and resources to do such extensive research to help find the coalition. It was also eye opening that the coalition was founded by six determined people. This opened our eyes to what determination, perseverance, and unity can do. This tour really made us open our eyes to understand our purpose and why we are here to help.
Later in the day, we went to a Habitat for Humanity site in Immokalee. Even though we were given a small task of caulking the porches on several homes, we felt as though we were truly making a difference in someone's life. After meeting a home owner and talking awhile, we realized how much our time and help means to her and her community. Listening her talk about her and her family, as well as the importance of this house, we realized how lucky we were to spend time helping others.
Additionally, working side by side with retired folk from around the area really showed how committed they were to helping others by volunteering their time weekly with Habitat. They showed us how to be selfless and open to others. All of the fellow volunteers welcomed us with open arms and guided us in many directions. They also appreciated having us there to help out on the various sites and to allow them to hear our story as well. Habitat will always hold a special place in our hearts by allowing us to give and grow as people.
While speaking with another group member, both of us finally grasped our purpose here.: it's not to give these people a better life, it's to simply do the right thing, to work with the people of Immokalee to bring justice.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013

First Impressions.....

When telling people that you are going on a mission trip, there is no way that they will understand the experience you are going to go through unless they go with you. I tried to picture what this trip would be like, but after day one, it was nothing like I thought it would be. All the notions and perspectives that I had were wiped away and placed with something new. These people here are poor indeed, but they are also happy and extremely hard workers. They have strong beliefs and faith in what they believe in and are more than willing to let others know about it.

During my first day here, I went to Our Lady of Guadalupe Social Services. I worked in the food pantry with an older couple that volunteer there once a week and we organized the food in bags and gave it to the people that came to us with vouchers after seeing the social worker. As I got to know the older couple, we go onto the topic of groceries and Publix. Their perspective about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers was that Publix does not need to sign on to this because they can't make a change, it's all the farm owners control. They were both wrong and right. The farm owners do control their pay, but it is the companies, like Publix, that give the money for their pay. So the penny more per pound paid directly down, the penny more they receive to live a better life.
But the part that truly made my day was being with the kids. They were so happy and energetic on the playground with us and once we got to ask them questions, we realized that these kids were children of farm workers. They seem to know that their parents work hard to give them what they have and appreciate what their parents do for them. This first day of my mission trip has impacted me greatly already and I hope to continue meeting new people and making a little difference everywhere my group and I go.

By: Sara Stefancin

Opening the Door

I love the aspect of people volunteering. In essence, it reveals a characteristic where everyone could not only learn more about others, but themselves. We as people depend on one another, and would relate to the idea of pain more easily than anything I have noticed. In response to this, we often form groups and raise awareness to issues in order to help the society as a whole. Though we do not believe in the same ideals, we as a whole can still function with one another regardless.

Today with Habitat for Humanity, I had the honor of working with various people both old and young. What I enjoy the most about the process of building houses is the details itself. Everyone contributed in a unique way whether it is painting the doors, nailing the walls, laying down the tiles, and so forth. Not every measurement is the same, and adjustments are always made in order for a secure structure.

In a way, a house is like a person. It can breakdown and sometimes ends up being more of a burden than imagined. However, it can also be inviting, give support, and even hope for the future. I believe that we as people have a niche for helping one another and contributing to what we do in a unique way as intricate as the details in building houses. What makes one house different from one another is whether they are willing to open the doors for others when needed. Even though we are all volunteering for others in this break, may we be able to open the door for others afterwards too.

By: Phuong Nguyen

Culture through Food

One of the benefits of being in Immokalee is having access to fresh produce from the local Pinhooker market... The group is hard at work making tonight's dinner of Tacos, fruit salad, salsa and fried plantains!