HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - An Oahu church is working with community groups to spread awareness about COVID-19 in the Pacific Islander community, which has been hit hard by the virus.
Honolulu’s Ohana Baptist Church has created a series of public service announcements for Pacific Islanders, after seeing many community members struggle with getting answers to key questions.
“We felt the greatest lack ... was not testing. It was not providing masks. It was not providing other resources," said Pastor Wayne Surface. " What we needed to do was give communication."
Pacific Islanders make up 20% of the Ohana Baptist Church members. The church created the PSAs in conjunction with the community support group We Are Oceania.
The spots, which are meant to raise COVID-19 awareness, were shot, edited, and produced by a Chuukese youth pastor who has seen the crushing impact of COVID-19 on the community.
“It’s a little bit saddening to see the spread of it because I know the living situations,” said Ensener Nerro, a youth pastor at Ohana Baptist Church.
“The fact that there’s big families living in the same household and not having the best resources available to them and so I know those are all play into factors with the spread of the COVID within our group.”
Nerro made sure to create a PSA for different Pacific Islander groups, each in its own distinct language, including Marshallese, Chuukese, Kosraen, and Pohnpeian.
Viewers are directed to WAO’s support line.
“They can talk to somebody in their language, ask all the questions," Surface said.
“So 'I need to quarantine, where do I go? I need food, where do I go? How do I get tested’ or whatever else it might be and it would be someone in their language who can explain that to them.”
While the voices are different, each PSA ends with an overarching message highlighting the importance of COVID-19 education and knowing help is available. “We tweaked it a little bit for the languages, but it’s fairly the same and it’s all the messaging behind the different languages was just comfort and peace for the people and then send them to the number. Just to kind of calm them down and not to fear.”
WAO representatives can be reached at 808-913-1364.