Artists Combatting COVID-19 in Farmworker Communities—Part 1, Salvador Sáenz
This post is the first in a series highlighting artists who are working with FJ to create COVID-19 informational materials.
Farmworkers have an average of an eighth-grade education, and a growing number speak largely unwritten indigenous languages as their primary language. As a result, though farmworkers are at high risk of contracting COVID-19, many educational materials about the virus aren’t accessible to them.
To fill this information gap, Farmworker Justice (FJ) is collaborating with artists and communications experts to develop materials specifically for farmworker communities. The effort is part of the PODER en SALUD project—funded by PROCEED, Inc., NCTSTA and the CDC—that aims to reduce the incidence of COVID-19 in the Latinx community. (Read more about the PODER en SALUD project here.)
An important collaborator for the project is Mexican visual artist Salvador Sáenz. A longtime partner, Salvador has previously worked with FJ to create resources such as coloring books about diabetes prevention (See more of Salvador’s materials here.) For this project, he will design two comic book-style stories, one demonstrating how farmworkers can take COVID-19 prevention measures at home and at work, and the other highlighting the importance of COVID-19 testing.
Various design elements make Salvador’s materials valuable to farmworkers. Storylines told through dialogue and pictures ensure that the information is accessible to people of all literacy and Spanish levels. Images of fields, farm equipment, and multigenerational families cement the narratives in the farmworker experience. And factors such as crowded housing and low wages, incorporated into the COVID-19 plotlines, address the specific difficulties farmworkers face in preventing the disease.
The comic books are aimed at older readers. However, Salvador will also create an activity book for children. As part of this resource, he has transformed the classic board game “Chutes and Ladders” into a COVID-19 educational tool; prevention measures such as wearing a mask allow players to advance, while risk factors such as failing to wash your hands set them back. The game aims both to educate and empower children while simultaneously assisting farmworker families with childcare.
Farmworker Justice is grateful to Salvador Sáenz for his work. With his support, we hope to empower farmworker communities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The “Poder en Salud” project is 100% supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under CDC/HHS Funding Opportunity OT18-1802, entitled “Strengthening Public Health Systems and Services through National Partnerships to Improve and Protect the Nation’s Health” via a Cooperative Agreement with PROCEED, Inc. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government
 Department of Labor– National Agricultural Worker Survey (2016)