We need to tell you about a story that will break your heart, and then we need to ask you for help so we can prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.
Hundreds attended the funeral of 17-year-old Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez. Maria was working in a grape vineyard outside Stockton during the 1st heat wave of this year. She became ill due to the heat as the farm labor contractor and grower she worked for, like many others, did not provide the protections required by law. After a number of delays Maria was taken to a clinic.
While in route the foreman called saying, “If you take her to a clinic don’t say she was working [for the contractor]. Say she became sick because she was jogging to get exercise. Since she’s underage, it will create big problems for us.” (Click to read Maria’s story.) She was so sick an ambulance took her to the hospital. Doctors said if emergency medical help had been summoned or she had been taken to the hospital sooner, she might have survived.
The death of this young pregnant girl is hard to accept because it did not need to happen. This is not the first time farm workers have needlessly died from the heat. Ten have died over the last four years.
The UFW is sponsoring a four-day pilgrimage in her memory that will begin this Sunday, June 1st from the Lodi church where Maria’s final eulogy was held. Over the 4 days, peregrinos will walk approximately 50 miles to California’s Sacramento capitol. They will then appeal to the Governor and lawmakers to protect farm workers in the fields and ensure nothing like this ever occurs again.
This pilgrimage will cost at least $36,068 to cover the costs of buses and vans for farm workers, food, housing, and of course cool water for the hot sun. We’re asking our internet supporters to contribute 20% of the cost which is $7,214.
Please help. Maria had only one life and now it is gone. This peregrination and the good that can come of it for other farm workers can help affirm that Maria’s life was important and that she didn’t die in vain.