Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Emory Fundraiser for Hurricane Irma Victims
People across Florida were still trying to wade their way through flooded areas, rebuilding their homes, assessing the damage, calling insurance adjusters, and more often, wondering how they were going to make the next utility bill after Hurricane Irma. In an act of solidarity and empowerment, our friends and allies at Emory University in Atlanta stepped up to do something for Florida farmworkers with whom they have worked for years now. PhD nursing student Roxana Chicas and Assistant Professor Valerie Mac along with others members of the Emory community got together and threw a pupusa fundraiser.
If you haven't tried pupusas, they are a cornmeal pastry filled with either cheese, beans, pork rinds or chicarrón, or the classic pupusa revuelta, which contains any of a combination of fillings. "Val and I were throwing around ideas on how to help, and we realized that a lot of people liked pupusas," says Chicas. "So we asked my mom for help, and she prepared them," she continues. Both Chicas and Mac have a knack for helping those most vulnerable. Then again, it's sort of a requirement if you want to pursue a career in nursing. Mac is the daughter of a Vietnamese refugee who became a mechanical engineer. She describes how she often saw him advocating for better living conditions for the temp workers who staffed power plants during outages. That attitude shaped Mac's views towards helping others in a word she would later in life describe as "solidarity."
Both women have worked as part of the Los Girasoles heat stress project on which the FWAF has collaborated with Emory University since 2012. Mac started working entering data for another farmworker health project at the Pierson office. Her own research in that area would form part of her doctoral dissertation in nursing. Chicas joined the Los Girasoles project in 2016 as a PhD student. For her own doctoral research she now plans to work with the FWAF in documenting farnworkers' exposure to heat as well as finding ways to help make farmworkers' plight a little easier to bear in what the health sciences refer to as intervention. Her project, ROSITA (RiñOnes Sanos e Intervención a Trabajadores Agrícolas) is scheduled to begin in late April in Homestead.
Mac asked the dean of the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University for her support in organizing the pupusa fundraiser and the school concerted with the Lillian Carter Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility to secure a venue, recruiting, and helping with clean up. "The entire Girasoles team from Emory participated," says Chicas. "A lot of faculty came in and made donation, and the dean was at the fundraiser," she continues. And the response from across campus was great. In fact, they were sold out after only 30 minutes. She adds, "My mom came back and dropped off another batch."
As we reported last fall, in the wake of Hurricane Irma farmworkers' problems were often left out of the conversation as discussion centered on help for the agricultural industry in Florida. We consider ourselves lucky to have friends and allies in the Nell Hodgson School of Nursing at Emory University looking out for farmworkers and we find the solidarity of these two nurses extending beyond their professional fields inspiring and hopeful. If you are or know a farmworker in the Homestead area, please stop by our offices between April 22 and May 13 for details on the ROSITA Project. This work will go a long way towards helping farmworkers in the future.
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