Farmworker women working together in the fields and in the home

For the average female fern worker on the farms of Seville, Fla., unfair wages, domestic abuse, hunger and sleep deprivation are a normal part of life.

As of 2004, three out of five women who approached the Alianza de Mujeres Activas (Alliance of Active Women) mentioned falling victim to domestic violence and exploitation in the fields, said Ana Bolanos, president of the Alianza, in a Daytona Beach News-Journal article.

AMA, as the Allianza is colloquially called, translates two ways in the farmworker community, mostly comprised of migrant workers from Central America. First, to “love,” a literal translation of “AMA” in Spanish. And second, to a support group for women who have suffered abuse at home or in the fern fields.

AMA originally formed in 2004 with the main goal of being an educational resource on health issues for farmworker women with the help of the Rural Women’s Health Project in Gainesville. But the organization soon broadened its efforts to also combat domestic violence, an issue they saw continuously manifesting itself as their interaction with the female fern workers increased.

In 2007, AMA achieved non-profit 501(c)3 status and opened an office in Volusia County. Its mission is to help the Hispanic farmworker community and limited-income families in Central Florida to combat their social problems and health challenges.

In order to achieve this, AMA offers workshops focusing on things like domestic abuse, infant care, breast cancer and nutrition. AMA also offers the female farmworkers opportunities to learn English and access to organizations that offer assistance, like the national Harvest of Hope Foundation based out of Gainesville.

If a family is in need of food or clothing, AMA makes sure it’s taken care of.

“I know that if food donations have been slow and there’s not much to give, Ana [Bolanos] will go to her own personal pantry for these items,” said Krissy Abdullah, member of the Student/Farmworker Alliance at UF, which is working closely with AMA.

After realizing they weren’t getting the help they needed from the patriarchal farmworker collective that existed, these fern worker women decided to create their own collective, catering specifically to the challenges that face the female community. As an organization that’s still coming into its own, AMA is paving the way as a female-specific farmworker collective.

If you’re interested in getting involved with AMA, it’s always looking for volunteers. You can e-mail the organization at ama_ama04@yahoo.com.