Telling Their Own Stories: Farm Workers Present a Video Series About the Dangers of Climate Change
(Listen to our audio in Spanish and Mixteco)
By: Miguel Hernandez
On October 4, the Mixteco Indigenous Community Organizing Project (MICOP) presented the second set of a two-part video series at César E. Chávez school. The video series is part of the California Public Health Institute’s efforts to bring awareness to how climate change affects the health of farming communities. The first round of these videos was presented in 2019 and 2020, where agricultural workers who have suffered from climate issues had a chance to voice their experiences. Now, in 2023, these digital stories embark on a similar journey but have expanded their linguistic reach to Zapotec and Purepecha.
One of the first people interviewed for this project was Eulalia Mendoza, who participated in the first round of the video series in 2019 and 2020. At that time, Mendoza worked in a greenhouse where heatstroke was very common among colleagues and where she reported looking at “ 5 or 10 people suffering from heatstroke every day.”
Mendoza was motivated to participate in these digital stories to help the agricultural community know about the danger of heatstroke. In an interview with Mendoza, she mentioned how she felt that there were not enough resources or consent on how to protect herself from the heat because at her job, “they only ordered you to drink water.” In her embarkation, Mendoza recognizes the fear in her community of speaking about violations and injustices, but she urges the community to lose that fear.
Mendoza was one of many agriculture workers who participated in this event to tell their story. The event featured many videos chronicling the experience of indigenous farm workers. One video talked about the Thomas Fire and its health effects and the most recent storms that affected the community earlier this year.
The California Department of Public Health worked with StoryCenter and the Achieving Resilient Communities (ARC) to make this project a reality, with the hope that this project will bring more awareness about the issues the migrant indigenous communities face.
The Institute of Public Health reported that “agricultural workers are 20 times more likely to die from heat stress than any other workforce.”
The experience of agricultural workers is a very unique one that goes unnoticed in our society. These video series are one of the few efforts to bring farmers’ experiences into mainstream conversations.