With These Hands

March 25, 2017 /

By Bryan Mendez

Editor’s Note: This collection of photos features three local farmworkers from three different communities in the ECV. Hands are are at the center of our farmworker community. Our community uses their hands to grow, to pick and to package. But we wanted to see what else hands could do, so we asked community members to tell us what they do when they get home, what do they dream about and what makes them happy. Our community’s hands tell stories. View the photos below:

Alejandro, 22, Thermal

“Right now, I’m changing the shock absorbers on my mother’s car. I’m teaching myself how to work on mechanics apart from working in the palm trees.”






Jose, 59, Mecca

“I work as a tractor driver on a ranch. Since I was a child, I always had the dream of playing music, but my parents could never buy me an accordion. Now that I work a lot I bought an accordion for myself. For me, it is a way to give joy to my soul.”






Maria, 75, Desert Shores

Maria has worked in the grapes for decades. She says this is one of her favorite recipes to cook for her family.







Maria’s Recipe for Prickly Pear Cactus with Shrimp 
1 pound of prickly pear cactus cut into squares
3 morita peppers
1/4 chopped onion
1 tomato
6 tomatillos
5 cilantro leaves
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tablespoon of salt
A pinch of cumin
10 dried shrimp
3 tablespoons of cooked pinto beans
1 egg
Cook the prickly pear cactus in a pan with salt, cilantro and onions for about 20 mins. Then sauté the cactus in some oil. Then put the morita peppers, tomatillos, tomato, and cumin in the blender with a little bit of water, the garlic.salt and cilantro until smooth. Cook the shrimp on a hot plate or pan then put them in the blender until smooth. In a bowl combine the shrimp and the beans. Add an egg and mix until you get a dough-like texture. Take a pan and heat it with oil and scoop in spoonfuls of the bean and shrimp mixture and cook until golden brown. Then on a plate serve the prickly pear cactus along with the shrimp and beans and it is ready to eat.

About the author:

BMendez (author)Bryan Mendez has worked as a Coachella Unincorporated youth reporter since January 2015. He enjoys creating videos and multimedia stories from the eastern Coachella Valley and enjoys helping other young people learn how to strengthen their video and audio skills. View Bryan’s author page here.