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Tu voz importa / Your Voice Matters: New MCN Project Elevates Lives of Migrant Farmworker Women

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Your voice matters

By Ashley-Michelle Papon, Project Coordinator, Migrant Clinicians Network

As Bob Dylan once crooned, the times, they are a-changin’. With news events like the disproportionate death toll of COVID-19 in Indigenous, Black, and Latino communities, the ever-increasing necessity of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the DREAM Act, awareness about the lived experiences of others has never been so important. This reality has played a key role in an exciting project underway here at the Migrant Clinicians Network.

Recently, MCN, in partnership with professional researcher and photographer Robyne Hayes, developed a participatory photography project premised on the philosophy of amplifying unique voices through education and empowerment. Classified as a photovoice project, Tu voz importa/Your Voice Matters focuses on documenting the lives of migrant farmworkers in Northern California’s Central Valley through a series of workshops that will teach the participants how to use cameras to take and develop photographs, ultimately learning to tell their own stories about their lives.

This take on Your Voice Matters is the most recent installation in Hayes’ work, which will once again center the lived experiences of women and children. Previously, Hayes’ educational workshop series, photovoice narratives, and exhibition were hosted in communities of enforced and early child marriages in Ethiopia, sex workers in Singapore, and girls at risk in Bangladesh and Nepal.

Often, the stories of women and children are overlooked, and amplifying those voices is a unique motivator to Hayes’ work. Reflecting on the success of the earlier installations, Hayes describes the long-term outcomes of Your Voice Matters as beneficial for both the professional partners and the participants by forging pathways for transformation, where the needs of a given community are understood. The long-term outcome, Hayes says, “is a stronger and more resilient community in which all voices are acknowledged.”

The collaboration also includes the E Center Migrant Seasonal Head Start, which will serve as the official liaison between MCN and the initiative participants, with Chico State University also having been retained to provide structural support.

Funded through the Humanities for All: Project Grant, a two-year award administered through the California Humanities organization, future developments for this project will include an exhibition at a professional gallery within Butte County.

Learn more about Your Voice Matters and keep up with its progress on our webpage:



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