So a little about the Marshall Island's. The RMI (Republic of the Marshall Islands) are a group of 5 Islands and 29 Atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They're located between Hawaii and Australia. The country has about 60,000 people (St. Paul, MN has close to 288,000) with about 25,400 living in the Capitol City, Majuro. The next big city is Ebeye with approx. 15,000. Here's a quote from wikipedia regarding Ebeye: "Settled on only 80 acres (360,000 m²) of land, it has a population of more than 15,000. Over 50% of the population is estimated to be under the age of 18. With crowded living conditions, an inadequate school system, and scarce clean water, Ebeye has been known by the unofficial and unfortunate title of "Slum of the Pacific." "
The Marshallese people have a reputation of being an extremely friendly and family oriented culture. Shawn and I were reading about the cultural norms last night and I think we'll fit in perfectly!! It's very much like the Mexican culture. Children are raised communally and families include EVERYBODY! Aunts, Uncles, cousins, second cousins, the cousins sister's brother.... everyone is welcomed as part of the family! Just like in my family, I don't even know how my "cousin" is related or if that "tia" is really my aunt but hey, if you need a family, come on in! I love it!
Life on the Islands is very difficult. Food is very expensive and employment is very scarce. A 12pk of Mountain Dew will run you $10.20! 1/2 gallon of Orange Juice $5.00! People are starving and children are dying. The infant mortality rate is between 22-26/1000, here in the U.S. it's 2-4/1000. Age expectancy on the islands is only about 67-69 years old!
I really think word about what's happening on RMI will hopefully spread soon. You see, there is a U.S. base there. The U.S. tested the Nuclear Bombs there from 1946-1958 and then some other tests have been performed on the people. You know the Deprovera birth control shot? That was tested on the women of those islands. As more people leave the islands, more people are starting to hear and talk about what goes on there. There are still active bombs lying around the outer islands from WWII and although people have gone to the base to asked them to remove them- they're still there and occasionally detonate. The people on the outer islands are starving and have to wait for supplies to be delivered to them, while Majuro has restaurants and nightlife. Of course, this is all from what I've read. Once I get there, I'll let everyone know what I see.