Farm workers inspire (and feed) the world

On Thursday, a special group of folks from around the world joined in a spirited protest with farm workers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), students and people of faith from various churches in the area. The protest took place in front of a Publix supermarket in Naples, Florida. The CIW has been asking Publix to work with them to end poverty wages and abuses in the fields.

Pictured is Dr. Aruna Gnanadason from India, who is one of 30 people gathered for a Justice Reading consultation with the World Council of Reformed Churches here in Fort Myers. We spent the first day together with the farm workers in Immokalee to ground our consultation in current justice issues of worker exploitation, mistreatment of immigrants and modern-day slavery. (See the press release from the WCRC on the protest)

During our “immersion” day with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, we heard the history of the CIW and the farm workers’ struggle and amazing organizing to claim their rights and dignity. We walked through the town seeing the ridiculously-expensive RVs that many of the farm workers rent on a weekly basis. And we saw the solidarity and service center Mision Peniel.

Mision Peniel is one of three ministries of Beth-El, which assists farm workers in Immokalee in their efforts to achieve greater self-sufficiency. It provides opportunities to worship, educational programs and many services needed given the lack of services and opportunites offered by the government. The Mision provides food, men’s clothing & shoes and hygiene items as well as a hot meal on Friday. Pastor Miguel Estrada, an ordained Presbyterian pastor from Guatamala, has been the director of the Mision since 2007.