A Child’s Story through His Lens: In Memoriam of Robin Romano

normaIt has been three weeks since we lost a dear friend and powerful advocate, U. Roberto Romano — better known to those who loved him as Robin.

Robin used his talents to help shine a light on the most vulnerable populations, especially working children.  During his years as a photographer and filmmaker, he captured some of the most moving images of children robbed of their innocence performing some of the most back-breaking work imaginable.

One of his greatest works of art was his award-winning documentary, “The Harvest/La Cosecha,” in which he followed three migrant farmworker youth as their families journeyed across the United States to follow the harvest. It was a touching film that captured the reality of America’s migrant families and the challenges they face.

Robin and Perla

Perla from “The Harvest/La Cosecha” and filmmaker Robin

One of these young farmworker children was Perla Sanchez from South Texas.  Robin did more than just document the lives of these working children – he connected with them and cared about them.  Perla wanted the opportunity to share with the world how important Robin was to her. Being a part of the film, “The Harvest/La Cosecha” changed her life completely. With renewed determination and the support she needed, she graduated from high school last year and is currently attending college at Western Michigan University.

Below are her words:

“Changes are rare where I come from: situations, settings and life styles seldom change. I lived in Weslaco, Texas for 19 years, and I can still remember the day I was reborn. My eyes were opened to a whole new world, the day Robin came into my life.

It was difficult to accept this man, whose culture was so different and alien to mine. His personality won me over within a few days. I could talk to him about my problems, and he was always understanding. There was nothing I was embarrassed to say, he was never surprised about my difficulties, and he was always humble and willing to listen. I admired his humility, his graciousness, and most of all his drive to work; he worked just as hard as the migrant community. He changed my life and taught me to see beyond the fields, and he showed me that I could accomplish my dream of going to college. His persistence and drive demonstrated what could be accomplished with enough determination. Robin brought out my potential and helped me make my image shine, and I always work hard to do him proud and never let him down.

Even though I came from a financially impoverished home, he helped me to believe in my own capabilities. When things got hard for me, one call from him put me back on my feet. Robin destroyed my prejudices, and helped me to understand that everyone deserves an equal chance.”

Robin’s photographs and films are interwoven in the fabric of the Children in the Fields Campaign. Like us, he believed in the unmatched potential of farmworker children, and he made it his life’s work to make sure the world did a better job of protecting its children.  At AFOP, we will miss him and continue his legacy of social justice

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About Norma Flores López, Director of the Children in the Fields Campaign

Norma Flores López is the Director of the Children in the Fields Campaign at AFOP. Additionally, Norma serves as the Chair of the Domestic Issues Committee for the Child Labor Coalition. She has long been an active advocate for migrant farmworker children’s rights and continues to raise awareness of migrant farmworker issues across the country in her current role. Norma has also had the opportunity testify to Congress and has appeared on national news outlets on issues related to child labor in agriculture. In addition to her years of experience as an advocate, Norma has invaluable firsthand experience with farmworker issues. Growing up as a child of a migrant farmworker family from South Texas, she began working in the fields at the age of 12, where she continued working until she graduated from high school. Prior to joining at AFOP in 2009, Norma worked managing national and local clients at public relations firms. Norma graduated from the University of Texas Pan-American in Edinburg, Texas, with a B.A. in Communications and studied abroad at the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain.
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