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Whittier has been home to Elda Chafoya DePaz and her three children for less than a year, but it’s not their first summer in Western North Carolina.

In November, it will have been 12 years since DePaz, 36, left her native Guatamala to seek a better life in the United States. Life was hard in Guatamala, she said, with poverty everywhere you looked. She worked for a banana company there, tasked with separating 17 bunches per minute from the giant clumps of fruit that come from a banana tree. The work was done manually, with just a knife.

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