By: Naomi Carrion and Maria Garcia
Thermal, Calif. — Residents from Thermal, Mecca, Coachella and Oasis gathered Saturday afternoon to walk in the fifth annual Virgen de Guadalupe procession at the San Jose Community Center in Thermal, Calif.
With help from Pueblo Unido Community Development Corporation, community members from 15 Polanco mobile home parks organized the pilgrimage to raise awareness about environmental injustices in the Eastern Coachella Valley.
Coachella Unincorporated youth reporters spoke to a few of the residents Saturday afternoon to ask why they chose to participate in the processional.
“We are asking la Virgen de Guadalupe to help us in this residence. We march and we have our signs [because] this is a community based petition to help bring better housing, potable water, sewage and other necessities to the residents who live in poverty, including the kids, the youth, and the elders.”
— Rodolfo Piñon, director of community capacity building at Pueblo Unido CDC
“The [pilgrimage] has united us and has helped better our community. It calls attention to the struggles in our community. There have been many benefits from having [the walk], especially bringing attention to the need of potable water.
— Eliseo Trujillo, Thermal resident
“Flood services are the most important because we don’t know what can happen and we have had a few floods. We still need potable water. We need drainage piping and we need to get rid of the dump across the street because it is not good for all the people living here, especially the kids. We need all these services and hopefully we can continue to fix these problems in the future. Little by little we are progressing.”
— Carmen Vargas, owner of Vargas Mobile Home Park
“There are many people here who have to walk very far in order to reach the nearest bus stop. We need [transportation] services.”
— Onelia Real, Thermal resident