LOS ANGELES — In response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Filipino Americans, members of a non-profit organization have created a virtual help desk to provide resources tailored to the community.
Tayo Help launched in September under the non-profit Filipino Young Leaders Program’s Caretaker Project through a grant from the Booz Allen Foundation. It’s an online resource with information targeted to Filipino Americans, particularly frontline workers, seniors and those who are unemployed.
Filipino Americans have been hit hard by the pandemic. The L.A. Times in July reported that while Filipinos accounted for about 25 percent of California’s Asian American population, they constituted at least 35 percent of COVID-19 deaths among the state’s Asian Americans.
Filipinos also hold the largest share of migrant nurses in the United States at 512,000 – or 28 percent – according to the Migration Policy Institute. It’s one of the reasons they’ve been heavily affected by COVID-19.
“Filipinos are very much largely in care taking roles everything from the medical fields as well as in different essential services,” said Leezel Tanglao, chair of FYLPRO’s COVID-19 task force.
“Who’s taking care of the caretaker?”
Members of FYLPRO quickly realized at the beginning of the pandemic that they were all affected by it on a personal level. They all had relatives, friends or peers who died from or got infected by COVID-19. It triggered feelings of helplessness that prompted them to brainstorm ways they could help the community.
“When we were on these late night calls, members of our group basically said, ‘I’m having trouble talking to my Tito, Tita, Lolo and Lola to stay home. They’re not listening because they want to see their friends. What do I tell them?’” Tanglao said. “That sparked a larger conversation around, wouldn’t it be great if there was a playbook for our community?”
Tayo Help went live with about 100 articles addressing questions related to COVID-19, including ones about mental health, travel, business and what to do if someone hasn’t received their stimulus check, Tanglao said. It also guides users in navigating complicated processes, such as how to obtain unemployment benefits.
While information about these topics is available online, answers aren’t always tailored to the Filipino American community and can be hard for them to find, she added.
“One of the questions we got is, if someone in my household got COVID, can we share a bathroom? You can find that answer somewhere, but you won’t find an answer where it’s culturally tailored,” she said. “An answer might be something like, ‘No you shouldn’t, and you shouldn’t be sharing a tabo.’ Stuff like that. You wouldn’t find that on the CDC site.”
Tayo Help this month will also be providing Filipino translations of the articles to make the information more accessible.
The site caters to the community in Los Angeles, though FYLPRO hopes to expand it to other cities in the future. It also hopes to obtain more funding so it can translate the content to other Philippine languages.
Tanglao said that in addition to disseminating information, the group is also collecting data to better serve the community. It’s doing this by collecting anonymous questions from those who visit the site and demographic data on visitors’ ages and occupations.
Another goal for the group is to share what it learns from the project with others.
“We know that this project is scalable to our community as a whole, but also to other communities of color and immigrant communities that are in similar situations,” she said. “There’s an information and knowledge gap.”
FYLPRO was one of 21 applicants to receive funding from Booz Allen. Nearly 3,000 applied.
“In this unprecedented time, we asked applicants to provide their best and brightest ideas to solve the most pressing issues caused by the pandemic—and help those vulnerable populations most impacted,” John M. Murdock, president and co-founding board member of the foundation, said in an email. “The Booz Allen Foundation is honored to provide funding to a diverse set of winning teams developing high impact solutions that will not only change the world, but also provide hope.”
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