Farmworker Legal Services/Migrant Rights Action (MiRA)
In response to the egregious and illegal human rights violations taking place in present day Michigan migrant camps, the student run organization MiRA (Migrant Rights Action) dedicates itself to bettering the life of migrant farm workers by educating the Kalamazoo community regarding issues of migrant civil rights, forging coalitions and partnerships with individuals and organizations who possess similar objectives, and advocating through lobbying on a local and federal level in order to improve living and working conditions for migrant farm workers and their families.
Farmworker Legal Services (FLS) is a legal aid office with attorneys and other advocates who provide free legal assistance and referrals to the 45,800 migrant and seasonal farmworkers throughout the state of Michigan.
Civic Engagement Scholars (Marlene Ramos & Rachel Udow) in 2007-2008 worked with FLS staff to:
- Raise awareness about legal and social justice issues facing Michigan farmworkers at a forum hosted on K’s campus in the fall.
- Coordinate a Pesticide Action Campaign to address the underreporting of pesticide exposures suffered by farmworkers in Michigan. The goals of the campaign include understanding the underreporting of pesticide exposure and creating pesticide education materials that inform farmworkers about pesticide safety and environmental justice.
The Pesticide Action Campaign involves a partnership between FLS, the Underwood Stryker Institute, student fellows, and students enrolled in SPAN205: Culture of Health and Disease in the Hispanic Community. Under the guidance of student fellows, SPAN205 students will create an interactive pesticide education curriculum in Spanish aimed at increasing the reporting of pesticide exposures suffered by farmworkers in Michigan and increasing farmworker awareness of environmental justice issues. Central to this curriculum is the idea that farmworkers, growers, and health care providers all have an important role to play in improving the reporting of pesticide exposures. The curriculum will be used at Migrant Ed classes and Head Start Parent Nights throughout the 2008 season. Additionally, students will create an hour-long presentation (video, skit, etc.) in Spanish about environmental justice and pesticide safety, which they will present at the Southwest Michigan Migrant Resource Council’s 2008 pre-season conference on May 30th. The presentation will advertise that the environmental justice/pesticide safety curriculum will be available for use throughout Michigan during the 2008 season.
By the end of the project, SPAN205 students and student fellows will have a greater understanding of the situation of migrant and seasonal farmworkers in Michigan. Additionally, they will have developed materials that will be critical to the ongoing effort to make pesticide exposure a central concern of farmworkers, growers, and health care providers throughout the state.
Each quarter, all students must attend a mandatory orientation/training session, complete appropriate paperwork, and attend mandatory reflection sessions throughout the term.
Location: On campus, Farmworker Legal Services (3030 South 9th Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49009) and around west Michigan (migrant camps, etc.)
Program Times: Vary