Updated: Oct 21, 2020
It was amazing seeing the community join together this past weekend to support Mariposa, a local street vendor in need. She is a hardworking mother of two young girls and has been supporting her family working as a street vendor and Aztec dancer all her life. Taking after her mother Rosa, who was also a street vendor in East LA ever since they migrated to the US together in the 80s. They started off by selling oranges in front of churches or markets. As hard as they worked and tried to sell, they became homeless. Finding shelter and places to sleep wherever they could outside. Eventually they found a permanent location to sell at in East LA that became popular and where people often still return to expecting to see Rosa. Till this day Mariposa sets up at her mother's location selling fruit, aguas frescas, and handmade jewelry made by her daughters.
Earlier this year Rosa's terminal illness worsened. Her legs were also amputated and so she needed a full time, round the clock caregiver. Being the only child and having no other family in the US, Mariposa took on the responsibility. This resulted in her losing the job she had just attained at a nearby school after becoming a DACA recipient. She began street vending again to make ends meet and to pay for her mothers’ medical expenses. The illness progressed and Mariposa’s mother was admitted to the hospital. Unfortunately she passed away in May. Mariposa has continued setting up at her mother’s vending location not only because people who remember her mother often return to the location, but also because she says it helps bring her peace as she heals and grieves.
She is living “paycheck to paycheck” while supporting her daughters and paying off her mothers' funeral. The pandemic, wildfires, and lack of reliable transportation have also made it difficult to work. Mariposa and her daughter were admitted to the hospital earlier this year after not realizing that her van was leaking toxic fumes. Since using the van is the only way for her to make a living, she has tried repairing it but has also been saving for a new one.
Photos by Local Hearts Foundation Photographer: Alex Sanchez
Like most street vendors do, Mariposa works all year long in all types of weather and has to remain cautious of not being shut down or attacked. She has been robbed at gunpoint and knifepoint. This is partially why she had reached out to Local Hearts a few months ago. She saw our efforts to help out local street vendors by providing pepper spray and face masks, and expressed also feeling unsafe while simply trying to make a living.
Before her mother Rosa had to stop working this year, she had been issued five tickets back to back from police and was warned about being arrested if she were to get caught again. She felt it was unfair and says "street vendors aren't hurting anyone, they are just trying to do an honest job." Despite any obstacles or hardships, Mariposa has always remained positive and worked hard. She learned this from her mother and teaches the same to her daughters.
After learning about Mariposa's story, we began making trips to visit the family and drop off essentials such as face masks, and school supplies/tablets. With the community's support we were able to give Mariposa a helping hand and alleviate some of her financial burdens by starting the movement, “Buy Out Mariposa." Over the past weeks, the community participated in this movement by spreading the word about her current situation and attending the Buy Out Mariposa event. Proceeds will go towards purchasing a new van, paying off her mother’s funeral, and supporting her family.
Thank you so much to everyone who donated and helped bring awareness to our local street vendors by sharing Mariposa's and her daughters' story!
Their usual vending location is at 3833 Medford Ave. in Los Angeles, CA, 90063 on weekdays, Monday - Friday from 9:00am till 2:00pm. Mariposa and her girls are working hard to try and gain back their customer base from the 90's. Thank you again to the community for their endless support!