Immokalee is a community with a vulnerable population of migrant farmworkers who are on the front lines of Southwest Florida’s food supply chain. Photographer Lisette Morales has been documenting the farmworkers as they continue to navigate the ever-changing circumstances they face during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Just like everyone else, they want to stay healthy and continue to go to work every day, because they don’t have the privilege of staying home,” said Morales. "Other concerns were access to protective equipment or medical care."
"Most of the farmworkers and other individuals that I’ve met there expressed some interesting views and mixed feelings, just like everyone else, about the pandemic," said Morales. "On one side they are very optimistic, saying that God will protect them against the virus, but on the other hand they are fearful that when the pandemic hits Immokalee it will affect primarily their elderly population."
"It was very difficult to see people without masks or gloves and standing so close to each other during a pandemic," said Morales.
"I didn’t want to add any stress to anyone with the presence of my camera, but luckily, I was welcomed because this is a community that I’ve been documenting for a few years for a long-form photo project titled “The Road to Immokalee,” humanizing the life of farmworker women," said Morales.
"Most people, even those who are bilingual, shared that they mostly watch the Spanish language networks to stay informed with national and international news," said Morales.
"I’ve witnessed the Collier County Sheriff's Office giving out hand sanitizers and gloves to all farmworkers boarding buses going into the fields, and driving around town with a megaphone with information about the pandemic in Spanish, Creole and English," said Morales.
"I’m aware that the women of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers are sewing fabric face masks," said Morales.
"One of the farmers [Lipman Family Farms] placed mobile hand washing stations around town, gave their employees full face fabric masks and gloves, and added buses to permit social distancing," said Morales.
Morales will continues to photograph and document Immokalee farmworkers' lives during the pandemic. She is is also exploring how local officials are offering aid to the community.