Actress Oprah Winfrey poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'A Wrinkle In Time' in London. File / AP
She announced on Wednesday that her Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation will donate money to organisations dedicated to helping underserved communities in Chicago; Baltimore; Nashville, Tennessee; Milwaukee; and Kosciusko, Mississippi, where she was born.
"The reason I’m talking about it is because there is going to be a need for people of means to step up,” Winfrey said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"I mean, this thing is not going away. Even when the virus is gone, the devastation left by people not being able to work for months who were holding on paycheck to paycheck, who have used up their savings - people are going to be in need. So my thing is, look in your own neighbourhood, in your own backyard to see how you can serve and where your service is most essential. That is the real essential work, I think, for people of means.”
After speaking with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other leaders, Winfrey decided to give $5 million to Live Healthy Chicago, which provides immediate support to seniors and high-risk residents affected by the coronavirus.
In Nashville, where Winfrey lived with her father and started her media career, she is giving $2 million to NashvilleNurtures, a collaboration with Mount Zion Baptist Church and Tennessee State University, Winfrey’s alma mater. They plan to feed 10,000 families in and around the city.
In Milwaukee, where she lived with her mother, Winfrey is assisting those in need of housing and mental health care with a $100,000 donation to SaintA and The Nia Imani Family, Inc.
In Baltimore, where Winfrey also built her media career, she's donating money to Living Classrooms Foundation and Centre for Urban Families.
She will also give $115,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi.
"I’m not opposed to big organisations dispersing money, but I always like to do the on-the-ground grassroots stuff myself,” she said. "Look, I want to be able to reach people who have been incarcerated and are coming out of prison. I want to reach mothers of domestic violence. I want to reach people. I want to feed people. I want to help people get access to testing.”
Winfrey said she’s been homebound since March 11, four days after she wrapped her nine-city wellness tour that visited arenas like Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the Forum in Inglewood, California.
She announced her COVID-19 Relief Fund last month, initially giving $1 million to America’s Food Fund. She said on Wednesday that she will also give grants to advocacy organisation Global Citizen, New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago and Minnie’s Food Pantry in Plano, Texas, among other organisations.
Before giving out millions to others, Winfrey said she first helped the people closest to her. "The first thing I did was start in my own family, people I knew who were going to be touched and were not going to have jobs. Then I moved out to people who I’ve worked with and known who maybe would be out of work. I started literally here, working my way out, and then into the community. So people who I hadn’t spoken to in years ended up getting checks from me like, ‘What is this?’” she said.
"All the cousins and some aunties - try to help your own family first,” she added. "I didn’t want an announcement about, ‘I’m going out into the world trying to help other people’ and then your own family saying, ‘Hey, I can’t pay my light bill. I can’t pay my rent.’"
Last week, Winfrey gave a commencement speech during Facebook’s virtual "Graduation 2020” event, and asked the graduates, "What will your essential service be?” She said she’s asked herself the same question.
"What this pandemic has done is made me think about giving differently. How I give and who’s on the receiving end of that, and how do you do that in such a way that sustains people? I’ve ultimately always believed that you teach people to fish ... but sometimes people just need fish and a piece of bread,” she said. "Sometimes you need some fish, OK? Sometimes you don’t have time to learn to fish. I just need some fish today!”
The figure compiled by Johns Hopkins University surpasses the number of people who died in 2019 of chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s, flu and pneumonia combined.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, estimated in an interview with CNN that the pandemic could cause between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths in the United States.
The global death toll from the virus surged past 106,000 on Saturday, with the United States quickly becoming the epicentre of the pandemic that first emerged in China late last year.
Expo 2020 Dubai wrote on Instagram, “We celebrated Latvia’s National Day at Expo 2020 Dubai today, where we were honoured to welcome His Excellency Egils Levits, President of Latvia, who attended a ceremony at Al Wasl Plaza with His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence and Commissioner General of Expo 2020 Dubai.”
Shafi’s performance at the Expo 2020 Dubai would be her first major live act in nearly a year and a half. Fans from across the world once again have the chance to come together to enjoy Shafi’s powerful vocal performance and charismatic presence on stage.
The operetta featured a rendition of the poems of Emirati poet Maryam Al Naqbi by Fayez Al Saeed, Walid Al Jassem and Faisal Al Jassem, while a group of female students from Abdullah bin Al Mubarak school in Khorfakkan, performed a graceful dance in the background.