Many people may have heard of the situation in the Flint through media coverage, but it was a truly different experience being in the city and talking to the residents. The lead contamination has left residents without easy access to clean water. The residents need to use bottled water to not only consume and cook, but also to wash their faces and brush their teeth. This is a task many of us take for granted because we can walk into our bathrooms and turn on the faucet without even a moment’s thought. Delivering water and having the opportunity to speak with the residents made us realize the day-to-day struggles they face. But what was most remarkable to me was how resilient these residents were. They were extremely friendly and eager to chat with us, and upbeat. MMS employee Yashwanth Narayan noted, “People were really happy to see us. Some of us even got warm hugs. “
For me it was particularly difficult to think about the children and elderly residents affected by the tainted water. I spoke to one grandmother who has 3 young grandchildren. She gathers water that is being delivered to her home (by organizations like the American Red Cross) while her son is at work to ensure that her son and grandchildren have a constant supply of clean water. Elderly residents should not have to worry about how they are going to carry cases of water into their homes in order to have clean water, and our team was happy to provide this service to these families.
I am grateful for organizations like the American Red Cross for delivering water directly to homes, and I was proud to be part of the MMS team supporting this great cause. The leadership team at MMS recognizes that this need is not going away anytime soon, and future opportunities to assist the Flint community are currently being planned.
I found that most residents understood the problems facing them and knew where to get help. There were still some residents that were unaware of the resources available to them such as bottled water, filters, and test kits from their local fire stations. This shows that there are plenty of other opportunities to help this community by providing additional education and outreach for all Flint residents. It is easy to forget how fortunate we are to have access to clean water, but we cannot forget about our neighbors in Flint.
This water crisis will not be solved in one day, and the residents need the support of their entire community until their water is safe. In the words of my colleague Satyapal Ingle, “Together we can do a lot.”