RAISING FUNDS FOR THE RMI
The Marshall Islands are currently experiencing a significant COVID-19 outbreak in Majuro, Ebeye, and some of the Outer Atolls. The RMI government had successfully kept the pandemic at bay for more than 2+ years, but now Marshallese families need your help as the most contagious of the COVID variants is now spreading rapidly. MEI is working with the RMI Consulate to gather needed PPE supplies. We are raising money to pay for shipping and purchase more supplies.
**Update #2 - August 4: we have finished our large scale food distribution to families in quarantine. Due to the increased need, we exceeded out granted amount by about $5,000. We are now assisting Marshallese families primarily with utility bills, though we determine greatest needs on a case by case basis. We also do our best to educate residents about other existing resources. We are also assisting Marshallese families outside of the NWA region, where hotspots are breaking out in rural areas of the state where there are scant resources.
The number of active positive cases have dropped considerably over the past month! Yay! As of August 3 there were 81 known active positives, 40 deaths in Benton and Washington Co, and 1,607 known recovered. The number of Marshallese being tested is down substantially, however. We believe this is due to families being afraid that if they test, regardless of the outcome, they will be required to quarantine and will either lose pay or lose their job outright. Some businesses are working with employees; others are not. Regardless, the need is still extraordinarily great!
Last week alone we received over 50 applications for assistance. We have already spent more than $36,000 (outside of grant money) for help with food, supplies and utilities. We received $20,000 from the RMI government, money we have received from this fundraiser, and individual donations via Paypal and check all of which add up to roughly $29,000 for a total of just over $50,000. The $36k that has already been spent does not count last week's 50+ applications or those coming in this week.
We anticipate some help from a block grant (bills) and from the CARES act for direct assistance (funeral expenses), but we will not see those funds until September.
Please donate here, or go to our website: www.mei.ngo/contribute to donate via other means. Kommool tata!!!
**Update: with the food resources available in NWA and through a second NWA Equitable Food Response Grant through UAMS/Walton Foundation, we believe we have food needs covered through July. We have already switched over to helping families with their bills. Funds donated to this campaign will go toward families' greater needs, not just food. When possible, we are educating local Marshallese community members about local services provided by HARK, Samaritan Center, and the Salvation Army and facilitating Marshallese assistance with these programs. Please read our updates below and visit our website for the latest: www.mei.ngo. Please note: we are also not taking photos of recipients and posting them to social media out of respect for these families. We are a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so your donations are accounted for and will go where they are needed most.**
Marshallese community members across the United States are disproportionately affected by Covid-19.
They are especially vulnerable to coronavirus, in part, because the community has one of the highest diabetes rates in the world. Having relocated to the United States since the 1980s as Compact of Free Association migrants, Marshallese do not qualify for Medicaid and most have no health insurance.
Additionally, many Marshallese are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic as line workers in meatpacking plants across the country. Springdale, Arkansas, which is home to approximately 12,000 Marshallese residents, is also the epicenter of industrialized poultry processing, which employs hundreds of Marshallese workers.
Update to original Campaign post from May:
In response to this pandemic, local Marshallese community members and advocates in Springdale joined together to form a Marshallese Covid-19 Response Task Force chaired by CG Eldon Alik and Dr. Sheldon Riklon. Our nonprofit organization received a $10k grant to distribute healthy foods to Marshallese residents in northwest Arkansas, and as part of the Task Force, we delivered food to 143 families over a 4-week period. Because the grant parameters limited healthy food distribution to families in NWA, we used funds here to assist close to an additional 100 families; our combined efforts helped feed approximately 2,000 individual Marshallese residents.
We recently were awarded a second grant for $14,800 to continue to feed Marshallese families, this time prioritizing Marshallese families in quarantine; again, this funding is specific to Marshallese in NWA.
The need is still much greater, however. Many Marshallese have had their hours reduced at work or lost their jobs outright; many cannot go to work given quarantine restrictions and go without pay. Other than a handful of exceptions, Marshallese workers do not have the luxury of working from home. We are receiving calls from Marshallese community members locally and those who live in other regions of the state and country. Your donations will help us provide food, supplies, and help pay families' utility bills that have gone unpaid due to loss of work/income as a direct result of the pandemic.
Visit the MEI website, our Facebook page, and that of the Task Force to learn about this unique Pacific Island culture and Marshallese community efforts to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. #IWearAMask
Kommool tata! Thank you!
Carlnis Jerry paying bills!
Richard Laraya helping with food distribution.