Prior to heading to Moultrie, we spent three weeks in class learning about community and public health nursing, with a focus on the migrant farmworker population. We learned about many of the health concerns and conditions the farmworkers must face every day. We learned about the long hours they must work, the crowded and sometimes dilapidated housing barracks, the musculoskeletal issues, foot problems, exposures to pesticides, sun, and other brutal conditions.
However, seeing all the things we had learned about in the classroom out in the clinics, really came to light when seeing it in person. We saw in person some of how these farmworkers live everyday. Some of the sights were stunning. We learned about how the farmworkers sometimes live and sleep on old buses on a farm when there is no housing provided. It was shocking and heartbreaking to actually drive by those buses and see how they had been transformed into homes. One of our instructors explained that during some of the peak harvesting seasons, the camp barracks may be overfilled and force people to seek shelter in old, unused buses. She also explained the broken down, beat up building we passed on the way in was their laundry room. While sitting and taking blood pressures, a man asked me how I liked it in Moultrie. I told him it was nice being out in the country and away from the city. He then asked me what I thought about the smell. There was a little lake over towards the back of where we were set up. He explained that when the cooks are done at night, they take all the leftovers and garbage and dump it over there; thus the putrid smell we would sometimes get a whiff of. I felt it provided motivation to provide great care for these people who sometimes have so little.
At another camp, there were barracks covered with graffiti.
I asked Jose what does any of it mean. He explained that sometimes gangs of boys come and write their names. However, they do not come when the barracks are fuller, only when there are less people present.