Women in the Fields

This is the fifth dispatch from Student Action for Farmworkers in celebration of National Farmworker Awareness Week. For more information, visit the SAF website.

As we drove around the county, an hour or so from Columbia, looking for farmworkers to outreach to, I noticed to the left of us a group of farmworkers on what seems to be a soybean field. I quickly told Emily (my SAF intern partner) and Carmen, our supervisor, about the group as we were about to pass the entrance. Carmen, quick to respond, pressed on the brakes and turned left. I was about to hit the window, but luckily enough I caught myself in time before my head and the window collided.

Photo courtesy of Student Action with Farmworkers

When we entered the field, I noticed the workers were all women and only one guy. I got my outreach information and went to open the door. As I slid the door open, I felt the 104 degrees heat waves hit me. The twenty feet I took as I walked towards the women was all my body needed for my sweat glands to start pouring. Next thing I know most of my back is covered in sweat.

Ten feet from me I noticed a woman who was bending down removing some weeds from the soybean field. As I got closer I couldn’t believe what I saw. She slowly straightened out and I noticed she was about 7-8 months into her pregnancy. I then looked up and saw her face- a face so fragile yet full of pain and tiredness. She put her left arm on her back and we stood looking at each other for what seemed to be hours but was only a few seconds.

Nothing came out of my mouth, not an even a hello. Millions of thoughts and emotions rushed through my head. How this could be happening?

A 7-8 months pregnant women working out in 104 degree weather. How did she end up like this? What is her life story? I was so furious at all of the injustice.

I was furious at the growers, some of who are in important positions of government and yet they sit comfortably in their seats with air conditioning, water, and snacks. Yet, this pregnant woman out in this weather was removing weeds and harvesting fruits and vegetables so they can have food on their table. And the worst of it is her life is not going to change.

Fidel Ruiz, 2015 SAF Intern
SC Primary Health