Young people begins water drive for Flint residents
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Hope Hall’s role was simple – stand in front a podium among other young children holding bottles of drinking water to depict the message that they were about to deliver concerning the water crisis faced by residents of Flint, Mich.
The 10-year-old bespectacled fifth-grader at Bethel Christian Academy, stared straight ahead while other young people decried the situation at a mid-week press conference, where they announced their plans to collect 10,000 bottles of water to be taken to Flint. The effort is being led by the Youth Ministries of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.
“What is happening to the residents of Flint, Mich., is appalling,” Shanyia Evans, president of the BCA student government, said in a tone that belies her youth. “Dirty water to bathe in, cook with and drink; it should not happen to anyone, especially those living in the United States of America”
The water drive began last Saturday and will continue through March. The delivery to Flint is scheduled for the week of spring break. The drive will run every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at BCA.
Hall wasn’t at the mid-week press conference just to be part of the backdrop, though. She seemed proud to be a part of the effort to help others.
“We are trying to save their lives,” she said. “I feel good because helping other people is my thing to do.”
What could potentially happen without their help is a bothersome thought to Hall, who said she follows news reports of the crisis.
“I think that everyone in Flint, Mich., is going to die,” she said. “I don’t want them to die.”
The bad water issue has become part of daily national news coverage for the past two months. That followed Gov. Rick Snyder’s acknowledgement that pipes that funnel water to Flint have a high elevation of lead.
Black leaders across the country have been speaking out about the issue. Rev. R.B. Holmes, pastor at Bethel, took the initiative to start a youth movement for the water drive.
“I’m proud to help our people in Flint, Mich., with this water crisis,” said Anthony Reaves, a senior at Leon High School, where he is a battalion executive officer for the Junior ROTC. “This mission means a lot to me because helping everyone is a big thing. This could have happened anywhere to the best of people.”
Rev. Al Williams, who heads up Bethel’s youth ministries, called what the residents of Flint face a “human injustice.”
Williams said he finds it distressing to think that such a situation could happen in this country.
“Many families and children were suffering with the reality that they were using, bathing and cooking with contaminated water,” Williams said.
“This can sometimes go overlooked and so these young people want to say they don’t want this situation to be overlooked. They don’t want people of a certain socioeconomic demographic to be overlooked because their family doesn’t have the net worth of certain families in different area codes and zip codes.”
Williams and Robyn Seniors, one of the others who spoke to the media, said they hope that their water drive sparks similar movements in other communities.
“This is a call to action,” said Seniors, a junior at Chiles High School. “We are hoping that this can shed a light on other youths that we do have a voice. We can make a change (and) I’m excited about that.”