Irish repay a 170-year-old favor to Native Americans affected by COVID-19

My Irish ancestors all came to America between 1847 and 1849 — during the time of An Gorta Mór, the Great Hunger, when the British Empire hoarded all the food they were producing on colonized Irish land and left the native people with nothing but diseased potatoes to survive. This plight resonated with the Choctaw Nation, who lived in and around modern-day Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and of course had had their own experiences with a systematic genocide at the hands of a land-greedy colonizing force just a decade earlier. So the Choctaw rallied their resources, and sent $170 over the Atlantic to the starving people in Ireland — the equivalent of either $5,000 or $20,000 dollars today, depending on your calculations.

To commemorate this generous act, a statue was erected in Midleton, County Cork in 2017.

But solidarity is even better than a statue. Which is why, as Native Americans have disproportionately suffered from the impacts of COVID-19, Irish people rallied to the cause, raising more than a million dollars for the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund on GoFundMe in just a few days. The effort was largely spearheaded — or at least publicized — by Irish journalist Naomi O'Leary, who also spoke about the historical relationship and the legacy of colonialism on the Irish Passport podcast:

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North Korean escapee makes heartfelt plea to Trump to hold Kim Jong-un accountable for his atrocities

When Yeonmi Park was just 13 years old, after suffering inhumanely under the North Korean regime, she and her family escaped to China (and eventually to South Korea).

She is now 24 years old and has become a vocal advocate for human rights in the country she once fled from. In this New York Times video, this brave young defector describes the terrible conditions for people in her home country and asks Trump to hold its dictator Kim Jong-un accountable for these human rights violations.

You may remember Park from a few years ago when she told her story at the One Young World Summit 2014 in Dublin, Ireland:

If her story interests you, give her powerful and inspiring 2016 memoir, In Order To Live, A North Korean Girl’s Journey To Freedom, a read:

Park’s family was loving and close-knit, but life in North Korea was brutal, practically medieval. Park would regularly go without food and was made to believe that, Kim Jong Il, the country’s dictator, could read her mind. After her father was imprisoned and tortured by the regime for trading on the black-market, a risk he took in order to provide for his wife and two young daughters, Yeonmi and her family were branded as criminals and forced to the cruel margins of North Korean society. With thirteen-year-old Park suffering from a botched appendectomy and weighing a mere sixty pounds, she and her mother were smuggled across the border into China.

I wasn’t dreaming of freedom when I escaped from North Korea.

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