This is your life. It’s the start of a new year and you haven’t worked in a few months, making it tough to put food on the table. But your fortunes are about to look up, slightly. You and your family load into the back of a large, open truck, with other, similar families. You ride in the back of that truck for more than 15 hours from your home in southern Mexico, to a farm near Manzanillo, further up the west coast of the country. The truck is packed so tight that you’ve been standing the whole way. But when you get there, there’ll be work. Long days of backbreaking work harvesting watermelons, bananas, avocados, limes or whatever crop is ready to be picked. For that, you’ll make $11 a day.
These are the people that the Manzanillo Migrant Mission supports. And that’s why Crossroads Rotary Club of Kitsap, with support from the Kingston-North Kitsap club and a District Community Grant, supports the Manzanillo Migrant Mission (“MMM”). Comprised of a group of snowbirds and expats from the USA and Canada, MMM visits numerous farms in the area, delivery bags of food, or “despensas” to the farm workers. Each despensa is 26 pounds of staples such as beans, rice, corn meal, etc.; enough food in each to feed a family of four for a week. This allows the recipients to save more of their earnings for the leaner months where they have no work options.
In its first year, 2014, the Mission served 375 families. Last year, thanks to the additional support from Rotary, that number has grown to 1,700 families who received more than 42,000 pounds of food.
This winter, we were able to support MMM with more than $18,000. Additionally, four Crossroads members took part in some of the deliveries of despensas. At the first one I attended this year, along with fellow Crossroadies Sloane Schmidt and Karen Wilson, the farm’s foreman addressed the farm workers with a speech explaining that we had no affiliation with any church, politician or party, cartel or any special interest, but simply friends and neighbors who wanted to help. The applause from the workers was only the first thing that caused a lump to form in my throat. The greater, recurring cause, was the sincere gratitude and relief on the faces of the people we were able to help. Sloane and I are back in Poulsbo now, but we were blessed with the opportunity to visit three separate farms this winter (including one that was a new addition, due to the expanded support that MMM has received). As I write this, Karen is still down there, as is the President-Elect of the Crossroads Rotary Club, Darwin Husa, and his wife.
If you’d like to learn more about the Manzanillo Migrant Mission, I’d love to speak to your club. If you wish to support this effort, please reach out and if you are offering support, but want to go even further, reach out about visiting Manzanillo and taking part in the delivering of despensas. You can contact me at email@example.com