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by October 15, 2011
Creighton University Office of Multicultural Affairs in partnership with several national and local community based organizations such as the Catholic Migrant Farmworker Network, Hispanic Affairs Project, Legal Aid of Nebraska and Colorado, Child and Migrant Services, Valley-Wide Health Systems, Inc. and others... collaborated to educate 11 student volunteers about the reality of sheepherder industry, health issues of migrant field workers and the human rights abuses suffered by workers from Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Mexico.
U.S. Government/Sheepherder Industry policies and practices openly promote inhumane treatment on the western slope of Colorado. A special teach-in and dialogue with Spanish Professor Tom Acker, Mesa State University, Ignacio Alvarado, Chilean Sheepherder and Ricardo Perez, Hispanic Affairs Project provided incredible insight into a system of exploitation, abusive threats by employers, both living and working conditions that restrict the rights of the workers beyond the point that their human dignity is compromised.
During the Migrant Journey Service Learning trip, students were guided into the high country of Colorado and they were able to have contact with eight sheepherders living in "campitos". Workers shared stories of incredible maltreatment to include: working 365 days straight with no days off, monthly pay of $650.00, poor access to nutritious foods, limited supply of water, no refrigeration to store food, no bathing accommodations, no toilet, threats from employers that they would lose their contract if they talked to people about their plight, and the special H2A work permit for sheepherders that exempts the workers from minimal protections established by the U.S. Government.
According to Ricardo Ariza, Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs a meeting was scheduled with Bishop Fernando Isern, Diocese of Pueblo Colorado, we shared our experience with the Nebraska Migrant Action Coalition and we are planning several actions to gain wide spread support of the rights of sheepherders in the United States. The national petition will be submitted to the 28 Jesuit Colleges and Universities nation-wide, the Catholic Migrant Farmworker Network and other concerned organizations and individuals. We respectfully request that all forms of social networking be utilized, that our political leaders, our faith community and stakeholders in sheepherder industry be contacted and asked to end this practice of slavery, human trafficking and total disregard for their human dignity. We are one family and we belong to one another!
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