by COVID in the United States
Rural areas with miles of empty land.
Simple homes with no electricity or running water.
Unemployment levels at around 40%, and a poverty rate of 38%.
This sounds like a country in the developing world, doesn’t it? But the stark reality is that these stats come from right here in the United States. Our brothers and sisters on the Navajo Nation have been living with scarce resources and extreme poverty for years. The Navajo Nation spans 27,413 square miles and three states, but has only 13 grocery stores. The situation has dramatically worsened with COVID-19.
On the Reservation, COVID-19 has spread like wildfire. In addition to no electricity or running water, many homes on the Navajo Nation are multi-generational, making social distancing difficult and basic defense against the pandemic—regularly washing hands with warm, soapy water—impossible. Just like the rest of the US, the Navajo Nation experienced school and business closures. The President of the Navajo Nation, Jonathan Nez, even had to shut down the borders of the Reservation, meaning no one could come in or out.
With schools, businesses, and even souvenir shops closed, the already-high unemployment rate has skyrocketed. Families are getting desperate. Without work, there’s no money to buy food or water.
The Diocese of Gallup, which extends over 55,000 square miles and includes parts of New Mexico and Arizona, as well as parts of the Navajo Nation and several other Indian Reservations, is working hard to help people most in need during this crisis.
The Diocese of Gallup is the poorest diocese in the United States, and is considered a mission diocese. Because there are only 33 priests to cover 52 parishes and 22 missions, most priests cover more than one parish, and they do so by themselves. Many parishes cover an area of 1,000 miles; some cover up to 4,000 miles. Religious sisters, priests from religious orders, and lay ministers play a big role in helping diocesan priests perform the most important work.
Most priests cover more than one parish, and they do so by themselves. Many parishes cover an area of 1,000 miles; some cover up to 4,000 miles. Religious sisters, priests from religious orders, and lay ministers play a big role in helping diocesan priests perform the most important work.
These inspiring men and women are in some of the remotest corners of the Diocese, on the front lines of the pandemic. The stories they share with us are dire.
- In one area, the Sisters of Jesus, Mary and Joseph run a summer program for children. Recently, the mother of one of the children approached Sister Sarajina with tears in her eyes, and asked if she could bring some leftovers home to feed her family. She had run out of food and had no money to buy more.
- Many Native American parents are desperate for schools to reopen so their kids will have at least one meal a day, and so that they will have better odds at finding work.
- Grandmothers are using Social Security pensions to help feed their grandchildren because the parents are out of work
- Oftentimes, priests and religious sisters help someone in need with money from their own pocket, because the parish has nothing extra to give away right now
Many parishes and missions in the Diocese of Gallup also run food pantries or “thrift shops” where people can come for clothes. Within days, the food pantry shelves were empty. Priests and sisters buy supermarket gift cards—with their own money—to give away since food pantries have run out of food, and people are still hungry.
The situation is dire, but there’s hope: you.
Here are ways you can help right now…..
$750 sponsors an entire parish
$300 heats or cools a rural church for a month
$100 will provide 50 meals for a family facing hunger
$50 will provide toothpaste and socks for 50 care kits for homeless men and women
$35 will provide tuition for one week at one of the Diocese’s rural schools