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Daily wage laborers and homeless people wait to receive free food during a lockdown to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New Delhi, India on May 07, 2021. Photo: Amarjeet Kumar Singh/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Daily wage laborers and homeless people wait to receive free food during a lockdown to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New Delhi, India on May 07, 2021. Photo: Amarjeet Kumar Singh/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Navajo Nation sends aid to India amid its COVID-19 struggle

Once the epicenter for COVID-19 in the United States, the Navajo Nation is extending aid to one of the countries that needs it most.

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India now leads the world in coronavirus cases, shattering global records. To date, the country has recorded more than 234,083 deaths, and the figures continue to escalate as emergency aid has been slow, and India’s healthcare system struggles to cope with the rate of patients, oxygen supplies, equipment, and vaccines. 

It’s a situation that’s now a distant memory for the Navajo Nation, but they experienced a similarly grave situation a year ago, when it surpassed New York City in the rate of infections. 

At one point, it had the highest per-capita infection rate in the United States, with more deaths than multiple states combined.

Despite food deserts, inadequate health facilities, no universal running water, and insufficient resources as a whole, the Navajo Nation has managed to pull-through, with a turnaround that larger and better-equipped states have been unable to imitate. 

While its struggle with the pandemic continues, the preliminary success after months of hardship came after enforced curfews, a mask requirement, weekend lockdowns, and other measures to stem the rate of infection. But an unexpected source of aid also stepped in to help the Navajo Nation’s efforts: Ireland. 

In May 2020, thousands of Irish donors set out to help the Navajo Nation overcome the pandemic, in a sort of repayment going back nearly 200 years. 

In 1847 the Choctaw people sent $170 to aid Irish people experiencing The Great Famine. Over the various decades the ties between Ireland and the Choctaws have remained strong, leading to a charity drive for two Native American tribes suffering during the pandemic. They chose the Navajo Nation and the Hope Reservation, which in the end, received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Irish donors. 

Now, the Navajo nation is doing what it can to help the country that finds itself most in need at the present, by sending face masks to Covid-stricken India. 

The gesture is small, but it's no small thing. 

The Navajo Nation sent over 1,200 cloth masks to India, in a show of solidarity while the country deals with limited funding and aid from surrounding nations. 

“As we move and see some light at the end of the tunnel here, it’s because of the work the citizens throughout the country have done to help each other out… More so than ever before, we’re all in this together, we’re so interconnected, what happens off the Nation does affect the Navajo Nation and vice versa,” President Jonathan Nez told KNAU on May 4.

Meanwhile, the second wave of COVID-19 in India rages on. 

In just the last week, the country has reported 25,700 deaths as the Indian government has so far resisted calls for another national lockdown. This, however, hasn’t stopped states from implementing their one restrictions,  including lockdowns and curfews, reports CNBC.

On May 6, India’s Supreme Court told the central government to begin preparations for a third wave, and to focus on resupplying its oxygen supplies across the country.

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