Below are the comments Obi Henderson delivered during the nearly 40-group Citizen Groups Unite for Water Justice press conference held February 9 at the WV State Capitol. Obi is CEO of Dreams Community Development Corporation and was one of the 300,000 West Virginians impacted by the January, 2014 #wvwatercrisis. (Feb. 12 update: 41 groups signed on!)
The global water crisis claims 3.4 million lives each year. That’s 3.4 million people with names, families, hopes and dreams… Dreams like the many at-risk youth in West Virginia participating in the Dream Chasers Mentoring Program, hoping to be the next big thing! It is imperative that we ensure water quality that these future leaders can quench their thirst for success with a refreshing cup of ICE COLD water.
While much is known about the sources of pollution, there is still insufficient information concerning the impacts on human health and on ecosystems. West Virginia’s economic activities such as fishing, tourism, shipping, hydro-power etc., as well as the economic dependence rely on access to reliable water resources.
It brings joy to my heart to see celebrities and your everyday humble community leaders pulling together resources to donate water to our brothers and sisters out in Flint, Michigan. In particular, I would like to recognize the young men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Pi Mu Chapter at West Virginia University. These young men organized classmates, rented a U-Haul truck, loaded 6,000 bottles of water, drove seven hours to Flint, Michigan Sunday morning and then made a quick U-turn back to Morgantown, WV so they can be in class Monday morning.
In West Virginia, we are 40 organizations strong dedicated to ensure that one of God’s most precious resources, water, is kept pure and uncontaminated. Many of you listening to my voice are fathers and mothers, people who have experienced child birth, and taken joy in cleaning your precious children with clean purified water from American Water.
“The city of Detroit residents stand with The people of West Virginia by demanding no privatization to our public water supplies.” (See Detroit’s Water Brigade’s note to WV groups here, below the text of our letter to Flint.)
It is imperative that EPA, DEP, and, most importantly, the government enforces rules and registrations for the preservation of our water supply.
Today, tomorrow, and for the many years to come, we stand in solidarity on many similar issues. Four years ago, I was relocated to West Virginia for an internship with AmeriCorps. For the first time in my life, I saw orange water in Montgomery, WV. If we allow private business to control water, we are at their liberty to taste and smell the non-delightful results for their profits. We want clean water today, we want clean water tomorrow, and we want clean water forever!
Thank you. God Bless!