With the Navajo Nation being hit hard by Covid-19, this CNN hero’s mission to help the vulnerable elderly has a new urgency

With the Navajo Nation being hit hard by Covid-19, this CNN hero’s mission to help the vulnerable elderly has a new urgency

With the spread of the virus, their situation has become more severe.

In the Navajo Nation, which spans parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, covering an area of ​​more than 27,000 square miles, it is estimated that 30% of residents have no access to tap water and therefore cannot follow early hand washing instructions.

Many other factors put them at greater risk: lack of infrastructure, inadequate housing conditions, lack of resources, information, and inability to use masks and medical services.

On the one hand, the Navajo people have experienced Covid-19 infection rates, which are among the highest per capita infection rates in the United States. Although the number of new cases Keep going down, The elders of the Navajo tribe are still dying at an alarming rate.

CNN hero Linda Myers said: “There are many, many elderly people staying at home alone on reservations,” and his non-profit organization provides life-saving supplies for Native American elders. “Some of our seniors live 60 miles away from a grocery store. Many of them are traditional and don’t have running water or electricity.”

to date, Navajo Report There are nearly 9,000 positive cases of Covid-19 and 453 deaths. More than 60% of the dead were over 60 years old.
Myers has spent decades supporting Navajo’s elders through non-profit organizations. Adopt local elders -Currently serving more than 750 people aged 75-105. She said 26 elders died in her plan. The pandemic will only exacerbate the isolation and fear of the elderly.

Myers said: “We have (in the entire reservation area) different hospitals… families with this virus.” “One of our elders lost her son, daughter, sister and sister’s daughter. “

Miles said the loss of the Navajo elders is devastating, not only for the family and relatives, but also for the history of the Navajo.

She said: “They make a living for the family. They continue to carry out traditions, rituals, language and weaving. Everything comes from the teaching of these elders. “This is a piece of history, a piece of culture. “

Myers lives in Salt Lake City and travels to the reserve several times a year and works with local donors and partners to deliver food, masks and other supplies to the elderly during the pandemic.

She said: “When the virus is infected, we quickly turn everything into a food certificate, understand special diets, and understand special medical needs.” “We have sent a food certificate worth $225,000 to the elderly to help They make a living so that they can get the right food, fresh food, fresh meat, so they don’t just rely on canned food.”

The Navajo people have implemented some of the most extensive blockade orders in the country, including curfews, closures and other restrictions. But the new rules also bring new challenges to people in remote areas.

Myers said: “Our elders…sometimes have to walk 18 miles to get water. They wait in long lines. They have to drag buckets.” “After closing the trading post, they have almost no access to Navajo traditions. article.”

To this end, the “adopt local elders” have also stepped up their efforts to send yarn to elders who are self-sufficient through weaving.

Marie Nez weaves a carpet in the home of the Navajo Nation.

Myers said: “Although they are locked, they are still able to weave. They send us the carpets. We list them for sale on our website. So we are helping them still maintain their lives in the traditional way. .”

All proceeds from carpet sales go directly to the weavers.

The organization is also working to deliver truck firewood to all the elderly in time to prevent winter, as the temperature on the reserved ground may drop below zero.

Miles said: “Firewood-six to seven loads of firewood-makes a big difference in keeping the elderly warm all day and night.”

Myers, who has known these elders and their families for more than 35 years, said that her work is still in progress and she was inspired by the gathering of supporters in times of crisis.

She said: “I also like to focus on the kindness and positivity that I see. The biggest thing is that people have stepped up their efforts. This makes more people aware of this.” “It does make a difference.”

Want to participate? check out Adopt-A-Native-Elder website And learn how to help.

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