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.