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88-year old Navajo woman gets first indoor bathroom thanks to USDA grant

Dianna Jennings
St. Michaels
Release Date

The Navajo Nation’s Dilkon Chapter sits a mile high above the desert in northern Arizona. Although rich in the natural beauty of the Colorado Plateau, nearly 60% of the residents live well below the poverty line.

The area is remote and the amenities few.

Bessie Paul lives in Dilkon. Her hearing loss and diabetes have made life even more difficult for the eighty-eight year old. Added to the health issues, Bessie’s home had no bathroom. She had to make a daily hike of 30 feet from her house…even in the snow…to get to the outhouse…and her only bathing choice was to go to a relatives’ house.

Although the Dilkon Chapter provides services such as electric extensions to Dilkon residents, they were not able to help with Bessie with her bathroom issue.

When a social worker heard recently of Bessie’s plight she took Bessie to the USDA Rural Development Office in St. Michaels, AZ.

Shirley Yazzie, an Area Specialist with the agency, met with Bessie and was able to secure a $7,500 grant through USDA’s 504 program. The funds were used to build a real indoor bathroom for Bessie!

Now when the wind blows and the snow falls in the beautiful Colorado Plateau, Bessie can enjoy the beauty of nature without having to slog through it for her basic needs.

When asked about the outcome of the project, Yazzie reports that Bessie says “I’m so happy!”