Their mother, a migrant farmworker who never gets a day off, will now have funds to get back on her feet.
A Salinas, California family will get thousands of dollars for the education of their two daughters, and establishing themselves after a viral picture showed two little girls using the Internet outside a Taco Bell.
“My mom sent me this picture today,” wrote Instagram user @mergoat23 last Wednesday in the original post, which covered the girls’ faces to protect their identity. “These 2 young girls were looking for a place with WiFi to do their school work so they sat near Taco Bell to connect to the free WiFi.”
“What can we do as a community to pull together for students who need something as simple as Wi-Fi in order to succeed? Please share and tag people in our community who can help,” the post added. It went on to get more than 68,000 likes and generate very concrete actions.
After seeing the post, Salinas resident Jackie Lopez launched a GoFundme page for Juana, the single of mom of three and migrant farm worker.
Lopez, who tracked down the family, shared that they are moving, so the campaign was meant to help Juana “get back on her feet.”
“Juana is a single mom to three smart and outgoing little girls,” Lopez wrote on the fundraising page. “She is an essential worker that works in the fields picking berries. She is a dedicated mother that works hard to provide for them. On her days off from work, she sells flowers on the side of the road. When fieldwork is off-season, she walks around Salinas selling ice cream, snacks and candy. She doesn’t take a day off because that is a day she could be making a few dollars to provide for her girls.”
The fundraiser had an initial goal of $20,000, but went on to raise more than six times that from 3,800 donors. Lopez also made sure that the family got an accountant, to make sure the money was properly managed, and the donors knew it could all be verified.
California Rep. Kevin de Leόn tweeted the image of the girls last week, pointing to the disparities in the United States and California.
“Two students sit outside a Taco Bell to use Wi-Fi so they can ‘go to school’ online,” Rep. León tweeted. “This is California, home to Silicon Valley… but where the digital divide is as deep as ever. Where 40% of all Latinos don’t have internet access. This generation deserves better.”
The majority of schools remain open via virtual learning due to the pandemic. However, an estimated 15% of US households with school-age children do not have a high-speed internet connection at home, according to a previously published Pew Research Center analysis of 2015 US Census Bureau data.
Pew Research also reports that school-age children in lower-income households are most likely to lack broadband access, particularly in Black and Latino families. Roughly 35% of households with children ages 6 to 17 and an annual income below $30,000 a year do not have a high-speed internet connection at home, compared with just 6% of such households earning $75,000 or more.
The Salinas City Elementary School District said they would be donating a Wi-Fi hotspot for the girls.