One of the keynote speakers at this year’s NOFA-NY conference was Rosalinda Guilien, a farm worker and rural justice leader. Ms. Guilien began working in the fields when she was ten years old, has worked within the labor movement with Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers of America, and has represented farm workers in dialogues of immigration issues, labor rights, trade agreements, and strengthening the food sovereignty movement. Her speech and subsequent workshop were powerful reminders that farm workers are, too often, the invisible power behind our food system. Meeting farm workers, be they migrants or residents; native, legal, or undocumented; brown, black, or white; has, to this point, not been part of our curriculum. But, we are committed to changing that. For our upcoming summer Eco Practicum Catskills, we will engage the issue of farm worker in/justices and meet with regional stakeholders to play our part in the struggle for a culturally and environmentally regenerative food system. Here is a prayer, written by Cesar Chavez, that Rosalinda shared with us at the beginning of her workshop, I am proud to share it with our Eco Practicum community.
PRAYER OF THE FARM WORKERS’ STRUGGLE
Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
So I will know my people’s plight.
Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person.
Help me take responsibility for my own life;
So that I can be free at last.
Grant me courage to serve others;
For in service there is true life.
Give me honesty and patience;
So that I can work with other workers.
Bring forth song and celebration;
So that the Spirit will be alive among us.
Let the Spirit flourish and grow;
So that we will never tire of the struggle.
Let us remember those who have died for justice;
For they have given us life.
Help us love even those who hate us;
So we can change the world.