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More than 100 evacuated migrant workers in B.C. treated to hot meal and fellowship

Amid Okanagan wildfires, community steps up to help displaced migrant workers, many from Mexico
A group of migrant workers displaced by wildfire in the Okanagan Valley are offered meals by volunteers. | Wayne Moore/Castanet

It's been tough on everyone forced to flee their homes as a result of wildfires burning across both sides of Okanagan Lake.

Nearly 11,000 properties and upwards of 24,000 people have been displaced as as result.

Included in that group, more than 100 migrant workers, many from Mexico evacuated from farms in Lake Country.

Perla Villegas Diaz, a volunteer with RAMA (Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture), helped organize a dinner Monday evening for more than 100 of those workers displaced by the fires with barely the clothes on their back.

"When this devastating situation started, many of them got in touch with me and told me they were evacuated and moved to many different houses," Villegas Diaz told Castanet News.

"But, because everything happened so fast they were only able to get personal stuff, passports and IDs.

"They are now in housing with more workers. They don't have any food...their employer didn't give them a chance to stop and buy some food."

She described the workers as vulnerable, in a terrible situation in a foreign country where most barely speak any English.

"We tried to get food for the workers (through ESS), but were told they had to register.

"How are they supposed to do this. They come from Mexico, many don't have smart phones and they come from rural communities and don't speak any English so they won't be able to register on line."

Villegas Diaz said through the RAMA and church volunteers at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, they were able to raise money for the workers and started dropping off food.

They got enough food to host a dinner Monday evening at Willow Park Church in Rutland. They were also able to secure food hampers from the food bank for each of them to take with them.

RAMA Okanagan and the Seventh Day Adventist Church are both accepting donations to help the foreign workers make it through until they are able to return to their farms.