The work we were doing in the schools was horrible. The hurricanes left the schools full of mud -- three or four feet of mud. All sorts of filth was in the mud. There were horrible smells, and we found snakes, frogs and a lot more.
At five in the morning, we were already standing and waiting for the company bus to pick us up. At seven or eight at night, we would still be at work because the bus hadn’t come yet to take us back to the hotel. We would be suffering from the cold and hunger because we only ate once in the evenings. Imagine working a whole day on only water! Since we weren’t being paid for our work, we didn’t have any money to feed ourselves. We ate only in the evenings when the hotel helped us.
Now I have stomach problems. I don’t know what’s going on with me. Maybe it’s because of so much filth and the putrid smells. I think it’s because I had to endure so much hunger. Since working in the schools, I haven’t been well. In the mornings when I shower, I find dried blood in my nose. I feel like something has damaged me. I had to endure all this just to work in order to earn a living.
I believe that the contractors don’t have a heart to be touched. Poor people come here to work, to better the city, to do the clean-up and to help out. These contractors, all they want is to hoard money. They don’t care whether you eat or not. They just want to get the money and run away with it as many companies have done. Many companies have contracted people at a certain wage, but when the time comes to pay them, they just decide they don’t want to pay it anymore.
Latinos have given a lot of support to New Orleans. We didn’t come here to harm anyone — we’re here doing our best. We ask of you, the authorities in New Orleans and anywhere else, that you just look at us too. Look at us because we came to better your city, to better the state. We’re seeking only the rights that everyone deserves.