How are the communities you work with doing?

How are things going with the communities you work with at the moment? Thank goodness, things seem to be ok with Kimberley (Australian) Aboriginal communities at least at the moment. They blocked the roads early and it’s been effective. But I remain terrified, as there are so many elderly people and the push to reopen would be devastating if it’s too soon. Or if someone catches it from a local hospital but is asymptomatic (I’m not sure how much testing is being done). “Social distancing” is impossible so once it’s there there will be no stopping it.


I’m a bit in touch with people who have social media in Daru and Port Moresby. Virus hasn’t reached New Guinea yet, but when it does it will be impossible to contain or treat. People in Limol village are aware of social distancing and washing hands, but lack the soap and the “stay-at-home” privilege.


The Mixteco community in Southern California has been very active in getting information out; the Mixteco Community Organizing Project and their multilingual radio station (Radio Indígena) is pretty amazing at outreach. Below is a collection of videos they’ve done, I for one find it kind of mindblowing. There are nine languages — a Zapotec variant, a Purépecha variant, and seven (!) Mixtec variants.

click for full list 1. Español 2. Purépecha de Turícuaro 9. Zapoteco de San José Lachiguirí 3. Tu'un Savi Guadalupe Nundaca 4. Tu'un Savi de San Juan Piñas 5. Tu'un Savi de San Martín Peras 6. Tu’un Savi de San Juan Cahuayaxi 7. Tu’un Savi de San Martín Peras 8. T’u’un Savi de San Francisco Higos

(“Tu’un Savi” is ‘Mixtec’ in Mixtec.)

Still, from what I’ve read and heard the immigrant communities on the US west coast are facing significant hardships. There are severe shortages of PPE for farmworkers, but they are essential workers.

(I wish I knew how successfully these outreach materials are (or aren’t) reaching their intended audiences. I find the page itself rather difficult to navigate — the names of the languages are obscured in the YouTube embeds, for instance. But it is also possible that the materials would be exchanged through more direct methods — Facebook chat, texting, etc.)


#3, #8, and #6 should have a fairly high degree of mutual intelligibility. So there is that.


Where I’m at we’ve had a large number of cases but not very many deaths. We have a very good hospital so that is a plus. Many Mixtecs are undocumented and that does affect access to healthcare but our hospital is really good at applying for financial assistance for people, such as Alien Emergency Medical, and offering large (90%) discounts for people who don’t have financial resources. That’s the good news.

Down south where people are from, it is a scarier situation. There is one hospital in the region that is expected to serve … I dunno, 10,000 people? and it has, maybe, 10 ventilators. When coronavirus hits, it will be bad. There is a lot of malnutrition, parasitic infections, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses and people don’t have access to regular healthcare to manage those issues.


In Côte d’Ivoire there is a stay-at-home order that no one is following. In the highly urban areas, where the virus is spreading rapidly, people just don’t have a way to social distance, and in the rural areas people don’t see a need. In general people live in densely populated areas with community water/food sources, which makes it hard to social distance. In the Guébie villages specifically, people are worried about sustaining themselves, since the government blocked off the only road to the city, which has taken away their only source of income. As far as I know, the virus has not yet reached the Guébie community (thank goodness!) but people there are not faring well due to the road closure and lack of income/resources.