Community Portraits

"My name is Hermila, and I live in Milbridge. I was born in Mexico, in Michoacán—most of my family lives in Michoacán, but I’m here [in Maine] with my children.


I have three children. The oldest is attending Hampshire College. My son is 15 years old. He’s in high school. My youngest, Fatima, is going into the 7th grade.


I was living in Florida when I asked someone I knew—someone who was just visiting [Florida]—if there was more work [in Maine]. She said yes, so, I came here [to downeast Maine] 9 years ago, and I stayed, because I like the snow, and being by the ocean. I enjoy working the blueberry harvest, I like being here.

I have always dreamt of coming [to the US]. I saw the United States in books and on television, and it had always been my dream to live somewhere where there was snow.  When I was living in San Diego, I wanted to live where land stretched into the water, on the coast. I also came here [to the US] out of necessity. In Mexico, its really difficult [to earn a living] and there are no opportunities. I wanted my children to have more opportunities than I had.


It was somewhat difficult when I first arrived here because I wasn’t used to the snow yet. But I liked [the snow], and so little by little I got accustomed to it. I met many friendly people here too. It was difficult for me to—because at that time, I didn’t speak a word of English. That was challenging.


I lived in San Diego, California, for two years, but I didn’t work there. My youngest daughter was born there. After San Diego, I moved to Florida. In Florida there wasn’t a lot of work, and I didn’t meet many people, so I wasn’t sure how to best adapt and I couldn’t find a place where me and my children would be safe.


When I first got [to downeast Maine] 9 years ago, I started working in a sardine factory. I worked there for 4 years, then the factory closed. I then worked seasonal jobs—making Christmas wreaths, raking blueberries...

​It was difficult when I got here because I didn’t speak even a word of English. So I had to learn because otherwise I needed help with everything—to go to an meeting at the school for my children, and back then there was more racism… now there's less, but it was really difficult because I didn’t speak any English. I still think that I have more to learn.


I like living here, because, well, I don’t like living in cities. I also think this is a safe, tranquil place. I like being here, I like to work in greenhouses, harvesting vegetables… I occasionally work on a small organic farm. Just yesterday we were harvesting garlic scapes. Depending on the day, we do a variety of things.

I think that now that the community [in downeast Maine] is more open [towards the Immigrant community] now. For example, in the past, there was more racism at the school, there were people who didn’t want students to speak in Spanish, but I think that is coming to an end now.

A few years ago and even still today, you’ll hear people who refer to all hispanics as Mexicans. I find this irritating, because “Mexican” is not a word that describes all hispanics. Mexico is a country. There are 21 different countries that speak Spanish—you can’t generalize and say that someone who speaks the Spanish language is from Mexico.


I like being here because I enjoy working the blueberry crop, and because [downeast Maine] is beautiful. I enjoy the Christmas-decorating season, making wreaths... a variety of things. It’s nice when you’re working out tipping the trees—I enjoy that. I like to dance, so I would like there to be a dance group started up for children or adults. I think that’d be really great to get that group together."

Meet Hermila

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Mano en Mano | Hand in Hand         PO Box 573, Milbridge, ME 04658         (207) 745-4988         Contact us