CASE STUDY

Toiling Away in The Coffee Fields

Marco* wakes up at seven each morning, but it is not for school. He spends his day working on a Guatemalan coffee plantation engaging in physically exhausting work.

Marco - site image

A Daily Grind

In the beginning of the day, Marco follows his mother and brother out to the coffee fields and works tirelessly alongside them. Together, they care for seedlings, weed, pick up and deliver wood.

Marco carries 30 lbs. of coffee strapped to his forehead. With the coffee secured around his head, he makes a fifteen minute trek up and down two kilometers of hills. Because of such rigorous labour, Marco endures hard physical taxation on his small body. As well, the daily threat of being exposed to pesticides from the coffee plants is another arduous battle. After a long day in the midst of these pesticide-carrying plants, Marco suffers greatly from the exposure. He often experiences headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea.

Marco is one of eleven children, but does not live with most of his brothers and sisters. He sees them only when they are in need of money. Marco and his mother live in a straw-walled house that they rent from the land owner. They have lived there for three years but are unable to build a permanent structure. Their current dwelling has no guarantee of security: They could be kicked off the land at any time.

Dreaming Bigger than Current Constraints

 Despite all this, Marco has many dreams: He longs for his family to have their own house and land one day, and he also dreams of going to school. Yet, due to his heavy workload, the chances of him progressing further in his schooling are slim. When Marco was in school, he would see his mother crying so he would tell her that he would study hard in order to get a good job in America, so that he can send her money. Although uncertain and quite hesitant about his future, one more dream still flames in his heart – He aspires to be a firefighter.

 *Name has been changed to protect identity.

 

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