Hafa Adai. Ran Annim. Talofa. Aloha
Hello valued readers, guests, friends and visitors to ifagalz. I hope this article finds you and yours well and in good health. Before going further, let me take this moment to thank the man above for granting us another day to see the sunrise and especially to be here telling islander stories with you.
A lot of things happening everywhere in our small Islander world so let’s get to it.
As much as I hate dealing with the Corona virus (COVID19), I must admit it had brought out the best in us. And it’s so comforting to be on the front lines witnessing it all.
Prior to this pandemic, I always thought that there was no hope of bringing our Pasifik brothers and sisters together. I guess I followed too much news from our islands of Guam and Hawaii. And I know many of you felt and are feeling the same hopelessness. I did for a very long time. But this morning, I must say that hopelessness is now long gone.
Thanks to my brothers and sisters here in the state of Washington, particularly the men, women and youths of our Pacific Islander Community Association of Washington (PICAWA) as well as the Native Hawaiian and PI groups, I have come to realize how much we’ve come in terms of the brotherly and sisterly bonding than I had envisioned. We are much closer than everything I knew and understood. It maybe just me, but even if that is true, I am still grateful to finally figured it out.
In this article, I want to focus mainly on what I have learned so far in working alongside so many other Pasifika brothers and sisters, mostly volunteers, to help our Pasifika community deal with all the challenges facing us daily.
The main focus of most of the groups I have been part of is to find ways and resources to mitigate the impact of COVID19 on our people. We’ve already identified the challenges and reasons why this virus has disproportionately affecting our people.
And for the interest of educating you, dear ifagalz valued readers and guests, let me point those out.
Culturally, we are what others talked about. It takes a village to raise a Pasifika. We gather to pray, to tell stories, to mourn, or simply to hang out together.
These gatherings and socializing of our people have become an issue as the virus spread easily between individuals. Our housing arrangements of 10 or so people in a small apartment unit where social distancing is impossible has an affect on the spread of this virus. Health and access to health care is a challenge. Our working conditions, as many of our people work in places where social distancing is close to impossible. These and many other situations put us at a higher risk than other ethnic groups.
Looking at all these challenges, many of us that volunteer our time and efforts focused on what ways we can do to help mitigate the impact of this virus on our people. We’ve identified many areas we can work on, but one thing I must say is that we need a lot more of our people to help us in this endeavor. We need Pasifika brothers and sisters to join this cause and become advocates for our community. WE ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!
There are many groups out there that need your help. Let’s start with the First Chuukese Washington Women Association (FCWWA). They need help to deliver food to families in our Chuukese community. If you are available, please offer up your time to volunteer in helping them out.
The FSM COVID19 Taskforce USA, they need volunteers to carry out its mission of educating our community on resources and ways and means of mitigating impacts of COVID19 on our people.
The Pacific Islander Community Association of Washington (PICAWA) of which I am a board member needs your help at our Food Distribution sites. The NHPI organizations throughout the west coast need your help, not only to carry out the works but also to pick your beautiful brain as to what each group can do to help our Pasifika community. There are also Marshallese Non-Profit groups out there that need your support and assitance. Please get involve.
I would like to talk a little bit more specifically on the groups that I am more involved in because I am more aware or in tuned to what they do. It wouldn’t be fair for me to talk about organizations that I may not be familiar with.
Now since the First Chuukese Washington Women Association was first on the top paragraph, I would like to say a few things about them. I came to know them through my work with my organization, the Pacific Islander Association of Washington (PICAWA). We set aside boxes for them to deliver to our Chuukese families and they did a fantastic job in doing that. They went all over the counties here in the Northwestern Washington delivering boxes of food to our communities. Loved what they did that I volunteered my time to help them in whatever smaller ways I can. They brought me on as a Tech Assistant and I am here at their disposal.
My first task was to create a website where they can incorporate resource and data information for their visitors and I am happy to finally completed the hard part of that project. Please visit their website at www.fcwwa.org. There are a lot more to put on their website, but it is now up and running.
The second task was to recruit my wife, a Chuukese herself, to join and help this fantastic group and I am all happy that she complied, in fact she finally willing to join me here on ifagalz to write about her group, the First Chuukese Washington Women Association (FCWWA) and immediately went to work volunteered to host their last meeting in our backyard. It was a huge success.
Today, she commanded me to take over her part of the Tongen Chuuk communication which is taking place this evening at 6:30 featuring my pwipwi oujea and amafen Consulate General Joe Enlet, because she had to work and so I am now part of the conversation when I was going to be in the backroom doing the production work. Not only that, my sisters Ritae and Triple have asked that I helped them facilitate the Love of Chuuk (Tongen Chuuk) conversation.
And so here I am, being challenged to be both a panelist and a producer. I will do my best hoping I won’t mess anything up. But please join us this evening, if not to learn the very important things that will be covered, but at least to see me nervously doing my part in the conversation as well as handling the logistics and producing of the show. It will be fun!
Let’s move on to the FSM COVID19 Taskforce USA. We’ve done a lot together, especially creating some fantastic educational master piece. You can see them all on our facebook page or on our website www.fsmtaskforceusa.com or fsmcovid.com. We’ve created some resource pages that are specific to each state, mostly state that have high concentration of our people. The website was designed and created by yours truly and it was an easier way for our Communication Team of our Task Force to do its work.
Last but not the least, is the Pacific Islander Community Association of Washington (PICAWA). My wife and I had host a number of island boys and girls at our house, at times over 10 or so boys just enjoying themselves. Our two young boys have so many friends that we think of them as our own boys too. We even have a couple of them at their graduation parties here at the house alongside our boys. It was a great feeling as a father and I am sure my wife felt the same. This experience was what brought me to look for ways to bring myself and these boys to help our own Pasifika family and let me straight to PICA of Washington.
For whatever reason, I was invited and accepted to become a board member and was involved ever since. We’ve done a lot! And I mean A LOT!
Since I joined and became a board member, we’ve expanded our food drives to two other counties. We now have one in King, Snohomish and Pierce. We’d also brought on a new community organizer for Southwestern Washington in Clark and Cowlitz counties and had our very first MASK give away back in late July in Vancouver, Washington.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our very own, Layla Afu. She’s now our community organizer in Southwestern Washington and I am so excited and fully committed in helping her with her community outreach. Thank you so much Layla for accepting. Can’t wait to see what we can do for our communities in Cowlitz and Clark counties.
We’d also partnered with different government agencies in the Southwestern Washington region to help them see and addressed the specific needs of our communities down there.
In addition, we had a very successful COVID19 Test site at the Federal Way High School. One member told us that PI participation at this site was higher than all the other test sites combined. That was a success!
We were also able to forge a partnership with the University of Washington, specifically SCAN and our brother Will Tsang to allow our Pasifika community in King county to take the SCAN COVID19 home test which is now available and being used by our folks in King county. If you live in King county and wanted to take this test, please reach out to us and we’ll get you the PRIORITY code to sign up.
All of these were accomplished, thanks to our smart brother and Executive Director, Mr. Joseph Seia.
There are a ton of things down the pipeline that are so exciting and I am sure our Pasifika community can look forward to.
In October, the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN) will be at our Kent, Washington (KING COUNTY) food drive to do on site COVID19 testing. Planning in partnership with Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander group are in the final stages to bring another COVID19 test site to the Federal Way High School, here in town.
And we are still in the planning stages of eventually opening up food drives in Vancouver and Spokane, Washington respectfully. Lots of things happening on behalf of our people and I am so proud of everyone that is involved. You guys rock!
If we can take anything away from this terrible COVID19, it is that we can come together as 1nesia and be the brothers and sisters that we are. The Pasifika is the mother of us all and it is her that connect us all. God bless and please stay safe.
Please Join Us Live!
Support your brothers and sisters and watch the show on social media as we’ll be sharing it on different platforms.
Thank you very much for all the work you do on behalf of our community in Clark county.
Kinisou chapur ngonuk ren om fansoun ne anisi ach Pasifika community.
Joe and Layla
PICAWA Executive Director Joseph Seia Introducing our newest community organizer, Layla Afu for the Southwerstern Washington Region.
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