PRESS RELEASE: July 22, 2013
Arkansas Support Network is pleased to announce the hire of Jellesen Rubon-Chutaro as Outreach Coordinator for Marshallese families. We’re excited about the strong connection Jellesen has with the Marshallese community, both in terms of her ability to communicate fluently in English and Marshallese, and her connection to the islands through her college and past work experiences.
Arkansas Support Network has a federal grant from the Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, to provide information and training to families who have children who receive special education services and those whose children are eligible for these services. One of the areas of focus for this grant is immigrant families, particularly Hispanic and Marshallese.
Candia Nicholas, Director of the Family Support Program for ASN, says “we are pleased to have Jellesen’s experience and knowledge, as we strive to reach Marshallese families who have children with disabilities“. Jellesen works in the Family Support Program/Community Parent Resource Center office of Arkansas Support Network (ASN) in the Jones Family Resource Center on Emma St. in Springdale. Jellesen can be contacted by calling 479-927-4100 or by emailing her at email@example.com.
On Tuesday, March 26, 2013 Former U.S. Ambassador to RMI Mrs. Martha Campbell was invited by Northwest Arkansas Community College to talk about the RMI Compact of Frees Association between the U.S. and the R.M.I Governments and other topics about the Marshall Islands. Her visit is one of many events sponsored by Northwest Arkansas Community College Marshallese Theme Semester program.
What is Compact of Free Association? It defines the relationship that each of three sovereign states the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the Republic of Palau. It is very unique in many ways. Martha explained the history of the Compact of Free Association and what is the right of each nation under the Compact. According to Martha, “Marshallese citizens can live; study and work in the U.S. without obtain visas.” In return U.S. government has access to RMI land and water. The first Compact was from 1986 to 2001 but before it was suppose to come to an end. “RMI government was not financially ready” explained Martha. RMI government asked for 2nd Compact which was signed to law and accept by both nations on June 30, 2004. The Compact Amended or the Compact II will end on 2023. “It applies only to the financial assistance” stated Martha. Also in the Compact II the U.S. government gave them access to many U.S. domestic programs, including Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Weather Service, the United States Postal Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, and U.S. representation to the International Frequency Registration Board of the International Telecommunications Union.
Is there any financial assistance for Marshallese citizens living in the U.S.? According to Martha “There is an annual 30 million dollars that goes to Guam, Hawaii, Northern Islands and American Samoa to help pay for Micronesia health.” “Arkansas doesn't have any of them because during the time of the Compact II negotiation, the Marshallese population was not very high in Arkansas.” The Marshallese were eligible for Medicaid before The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 was passed by the Congress.
In the state of Arkansas, Marshallese children with disabilities and Marshallese elders who have diabetes are not eligible for Medicaid and are not entitled to access to any Compact II funding. This brings us to the question: is it right for us to live, study, and work here, but only have limited access to health care? Marshallese pay taxes, but are not eligible for any federal health assistance in Arkansas.
- Albious Latior, Marshallese Family Outreach Coordinator
As the holiday season is winding down we realize that we've completed another hectic but very rewarding time full of friends and family. We have family and loved ones from all across the world that travel to us during these special holidays. As you may or may not know, Northwest Arkansas (specifically Springdale, AR) has the highest concentration of Marshallese population in the country. A large chunk of the families we serve are also Marshallese. They celebrated things a little bit different this holiday season -- if you think OUR Christmas shopping and preparing starts quite early, read about when the Marshallese starts theirs!! The article written below is by our Marshallese Family Outreach Coordinator instructing us on just how they celebrate Christmas... islands style.
"Christmas is very special holiday around the world. In America and most of the world, many families spend Christmas with each other. In Marshall Islands we celebrate Christmas in the Island way. We begin to celebrate beginning in the month of September or mid-October. The reason I say this is because we start to form a Jebta (group) for Christmas during those months. These Jebta (groups) start to practice about ten or so songs and a few dances from day time to mid-morning the next day. On Gospel Sunday, which is the first Sunday in December all the Jebta gather in a church to show their parts of their songs and dances.
In 1857, a group of missionaries from Boston, Massachusetts board a ship called Morning Star to head to the pacific islands to preach the word of God. One of their stops was the Marshall Islands. This is why we celebrate Gospel Sunday. One of the other important events in Marshall Islands is 'Jabot in al' (Christmas Sunday). The Sunday before Christmas we again gather in a church to sing one or two of our songs that we have been preparing for Christmas. Finally when Christmas arrives (what we have long been waiting for) we get to show what we have practicing for many months. This year there were 12 Jebtas that took part in the 1st Marshallese United Church of Christ Christmas Celebration in Springdale, Arkansas. Each group performs what they have been practicing. We spend all day Christmas and throughout the night in our church until every group has the chance to perform.
There are two video clips I want to share are below this article. The first clip is from the Marshall Islands during Christmas Day. The second clip is in from 1st Marshallese United Church during Gospel Sunday.
Also, I want to share the following link to an article that also helps explain how the Marshallese celebrates Christmas. Click here to read: Marshallese Signature is the Christmas 'jebta' Dancers
Hope you enjoy"
-- Albious Latior, Marshallese Families Outreach Coordinator for Arkansas Support Network
I was invited by one our Pacific Islander leaders Dr. Sela Panapasa, Assistant Research Scientist at University of Michigan, to the 1st Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Health Disparity & Health Equity Conference. The two day conference was held in Los Angeles from Monday, September 24 through Tuesday, September 25, 2012, bringing together Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) people from the continent, Hawaii, and the U.S. associated Pacific Islands, as well as community stakeholders, advocates, policy makers, philanthropic leaders, researchers, and students.
The conference theme was “Envision the Future: Translating Research into Healthy Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities,” and during our opening ceremony Dr. Sela talked about how we can come together as a Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander to help each other on health issues that we face in our communities around the nations. Our next speaker which was our keynote speaker for the day was Honorable Howard K. Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Howard, mentioned in his remarks that he will do everything he can to help the NHPI communities to be in better health. “Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Health Disparities & Health Equity I” , “Translating Research into Healthy Communities”, and “State Department of Health Programs and Strategies to Eliminate NHPI Health Disparities and Contribute to Health Equity” were the topics for the plenary after the opening ceremony. After our plenary we split into four groups for our breakout sessions. “Leading Health Issues and Understudied Health Conditions Confronting NHPI Communities” was the name of the one I attended and the speaker for this group was Justina Langidrik, Republic of Marshall Islands Ministry of Health Secretary. I was one of the speakers in the “Healthcare Access and Utilization” and my goal was to talk about the healthcare access in the Marshallese communities in Northwest Arkansas and explain to my audiences why Marshallese are not eligible for federal program to get better access to healthcare.
Even though it was only two day conference, I believe we gained lot of information about the direction we are heading with the NHPI health disparities. Dr. James S. Jackson, Director and Research Professor at University of Michigan, stated in his closing remark “This conference will help to promote the collaboration, strong leadership, and commitment needed to move forward to eliminate NHPI health disparities”. I have faith that all conference attendees (my brothers and sisters in the Pacific) will be inspired and will use the presentations to guide them in helping to create a future that will bring benefits to all the Pacific People.
--Albious Latior, Marshallese Families Out Reach Coordinator
FAQ Friday: Who should a Marshallese parent that has a child with special needs come see for information and services?
Please watch the video above to find out :)
Arkansas Support Network is pleased to announce the hire of Albious Latior as Outreach Coordinator for Marshallese Families. Mr. Latior has worked in several capacities for the Marshallese in Northwest Arkansas, most lately for the Jones Center for Families in Springdale. Arkansas Support Network has a federal grant from the Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, to provide information and training to families who have children who receive special education services and those whose children are eligible for these services. One of the areas of focus for this grant is immigrant families, particularly Hispanic and Marshallese.
Lynn Donald, Director of the Family Support Program for ASN, says “we are pleased to have Mr. Latior’s experience and his contacts within the Marshallese community to help us as we strive to reach out to Marshallese families with children who have disabilities.“ Mr. Latior will work in the offices of ASN in the Jones Family Resource Center on Emma St. He can be contacted by calling 479-225-0883 or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff of the Northwest Arkansas Community Parent Resource Center (including original content as well as curated links to various authors around the web.)