The city of Flint’s water lines were switched last year from Detroit’s water source, Lake Huron, to Flint River in an effort to decrease city expenditures. The river turned out to be extremely corrosive, and many Flint residents were exposed to high levels of lead after using it. The water lines are now connected back to its original source, and while the community continues to rebuild, individuals, groups, and officials from across the nation are reaching out in support for Flint.
Earlier this year, Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan stationed hundreds of soldiers in Flint to help supply clean water and filters. This month he visited a home in Flint whose water previously tested high for lead and drank the water to make sure it is safe post-filtering.
In an opinion letter to The Oakland Press, Gov. Snyder wrote, “When we work together as one community we ensure statewide success.” The situation in Flint has indeed unified people from various faiths and backgrounds teaming up to provide hundreds of thousands of bottled water to the city of Flint.
Working as a community
Pastor Keith Evans from Greater Mt. Eagle Baptist Church in Wisconsin, who is part of a church coalition to aid Flint, said, “We have to help, and those of us who have a heart for people, and especially people like myself who have a heart for the city, we want to step up and do as much as we can to help people [in Flint]who are hurting.”
Mohammad Almawla, a volunteer from an American Muslim organization in Detroit that pledged to help supply water to Flint, said in an interview, “Prophet Muhammad taught us ‘Your neighbor comes before your own household.’ As a resident of Detroit… I feel obligated to help to the best of my abilities.”
Alongside countless volunteer social workers and non-profit organizations, celebrities like Cher, Madonna, and Snoop Dog, to name a few, have also spoken out for and donated to Flint’s cause. Meanwhile, a group of former prisoners from Ypsilanti spending their weekends handing out clean water to Flint residents relayed a message of their own.
“We all have a felony on our record,” said one ex-con, Gerald Cole, “the thing is all of us changed our life around, and it’s just about being there for people in need.”
“I took a lot,” said another, “and it’s time to give back.”
At the federal level, President Obama himself recently corresponded with Mari Copeny, an eight-year-old girl who lives in Flint. Mari, who is an activist for local children and also known as “Little Miss Flint”, had asked to meet the president during her visit to Washington D.C.
“Even just a meeting from you or your wife would really lift people’s spirits,” Mari wrote in an email.
President Obama replied back: “I am so proud of you for using your voice to speak out on behalf of the children of Flint. That’s why I want you to be the first to know that I’m coming to visit Flint on May 4th. I want to make sure people like you and your family are receiving the help you need and deserve. Like you, I’ll use my voice to call for change and help lift up your community.”
He added, “I hope to meet you next week, ‘Little Miss Flint.’”