‘Navajo Strong’ Project Helping Get Supplies To Hundreds In Navajo Nation
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – One Utah County man is trying to make a difference in the Navajo Nation, which is home to over 170,000 people and has been hit especially hard by the pandemic.
Nearly 5,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported on the reservation and there are more than 150 deaths associated with the virus.
The Navajo Nation recently surpassed New York for the highest infection rate in the country.
“It’s a rough situation down there with no running water or no access to electricity for 40 percent of the people down there,” said Bud Frazier.
Frazier, who lives in Utah County, is Navajo and the reservation is like a second home to him. His mother’s aunt and uncle both lived there, and both died from COVID-19.
After their deaths, Frazier reached out to his relatives to find out what he could do.
“I talked to them and they said hey we need some essential supplies,” said Frazier.
They needed things like non-perishable food, water, hand sanitizer, soap, cleaning supplies and toilet paper.
Frazier realized he needed all the help he could get.
“I put on my Facebook page that I’m trying to help out my family and that’s when just a flood of things started happening and it snowballed and that’s how NavajoStrong came to be,” said Frazier.
This is a family affair as his mother and father – Curtis and Teresa Frazier – are also involved. Curtis and Teresa are Utah State University alumni and employees at USU Blanding, according to a USU news release.
“NavajoStrong” has been going now for five weeks.
Frazier said people and companies have been generous donating supplies, money and time. One Utah company donated 3,000 gallons of hand sanitizer while another donated hundreds of bars of soap and disinfectant.
So far, NavajoStrong has helped 200 families. A lot of them are socially isolated and do not have transportation.
“It’s hard. It makes for a long day,” said Frazier. “On Sunday we were out there for almost eight hours and we were only able to get to about 12 people, 12 families.”
Frazier said there are still a lot more people who need help. He has requests for more than 600 families and he doesn’t plan to stop until every one of them is taken care of.
“I want to honor them by doing what I can for them. And if it’s just coming down every weekend, I’ll do it,” said Frazier.
Multiple agencies and charitable groups were also helping to meet the need. Military personnel arrived on the reservation this week. A mobile testing unit from the Utah Health Department and a team from Doctors Without Borders, among others, have also been on site.
The ranks of volunteers were also growing, like Utah State University Biology and Ecology doctoral students Elizabeth Simpson, Megen Kepas and Hannah Wilson.
A news release from USU said they are facilitators at the school’s Native American Summer Mentorship Program. They learned about the NavajoStrong project through Bud’s father, who is a founding faculty member of the NASMP.
The trio of scholars is sewing masks and collecting supplies in Cache Valley.
“We also need volunteers to sew masks and we can supply a simple pattern,” Simpson said.
They’ve also organized a drop off site that opens Sunday. Donors can get the location and directions for the drop off donations by sending an email to Simpson at Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to help, you can find more information on navajostrong.com.
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