Nito’s Wings founder Deborah Yoder was a volunteer nurse in Majuro in 2016 and worked with Nito’s family in an attempt to save Nito’s life. She told the Journal she later contacted the late Ambassador Tony deBrum requesting to start a California based non-profit in honor of Ceihera Toni Miyoko “Nito” deBrum Kedi. Simultaneously Nito’s family was launching a sister organization Nito’s Butterfly Foundation here in the Marshall Islands.
Several collaborative projects have included bringing specialized neonatal training and education, as well as introducing new specialized equipment for helping babies who are born in distress to survive.
“In 2020 we collaborated again in bringing a container of equipment and supplies donated from the hospital in California where I was born and worked until it burned in 2018,” Deborah said. The hospital, like her home, burned in a destructive wildfire in 2018 that hit her hometown while she was working in the islands.
The supplies and equipment donated were part of what could be salvaged from such a devastating loss to her own community.
A nurse by trade, her position with Nito’s Wings is voluntary.
Experiencing Covid beside the Sacramento Marshallese community, as well as in her position as a flight nurse, only emphasized her desire to play a role in improving accessibility to supplies, education and training for improving the health and welfare of Marshallese communities.
Her passion for Marshallese communities began in the mid-1990’s when she served as an outer island teacher on Jeh, Ailinglaplap and Ine, Arno. This history makes the donations made this month to outer island communities especially important.
Back in August 2022, when the Marshall Islands declared a Health Disaster related to Covid-19, Nito’s Wings found donors willing to make in-kind contributions of personal protection equipment (PPE) for the Marshall Islands.
“We coordinated with the Marshall Islands Ministry of Health and Human Services, through the Majuro hospital Chief of Staff Dr. Robert Maddison and our sister organization Nito’s Butterfly Foundation to be sure the supplies secured were what was needed,” she said.
“We had many hearts and hands helping try to get these items moving forward and finally on November 21, 2022 the items were loaded in a container to be shipped.”
Earlier this month, their team was excited to catch a glimpse of the supply container arriving into Majuro lagoon, and subsequently to meet last week with mayors or their representatives from various atolls that are handling distribution of the donations to their communities.