Since the COVID pandemic shut down our dining rooms and many other services, the heroic friars and staff of Casa Franciscana have brought the services directly to the needy. Amongst these are the migrant farmworker families in the camps of the agricultural companies. The migrants usually come from the far southern states of Mexico on buses or trains with only what they can carry. They are grateful if they can find the cost of the transportation to bring their families and stay together. The woman and children, 14 years and older, can also work in the fields.
Up before dawn, the usual meals of rice, beans, potatoes are prepared in pans that may have been left by families before them. The glow of charcoal is seen as tortillas are heated, sometimes on garbage can lids. As soon as dawn breaks, the parents are in the fields and children are left to care for the other children. The workers spend the day shoveling, weeding, moving irrigation lines and picking crops, all backbreaking. No one counts the hours; as long as there is light these stoic people work. Mothers may work with infants tied to their backs but grateful that they are working. Diseases flourish due to the unsanitary conditions and abundance of insects.
Twice a month there is some relief as the Casa Franciscana team brings food boxes, clothing, medicine and blankets (those Sonoran nights are cold). We try to provide a special meal for the children with a treat. Their favorite is elotes preparados, (corn on the cob with lime juice, chili and cheese). The picture that you see is of a boy who has eaten every kernel off that cob!!
With the success of our recent book campaign, we will also begin to bring books to the children and, perhaps, even start a story hour. This God-guided relief is accomplished through you! Without your support there would be nothing to carry to the camps. May you experience the joy that you give.