Milwaukeeans Step Up and Donate Water to Residents in Flint
The city of Flint is suffering a water crisis-- high levels of lead are leaching from old pipes into the water supply. The water has been deemed unsafe to drink, and some leaders are warning parents not to even bathe their children in it.
President Obama’s administration has pledged more than $80 million dollars to help meet the city’s needs. Aid is arriving from across the country, and a concerned group will soon depart from Milwaukee.
It takes about six and a half hours to drive from Milwaukee to Flint, Michigan. You head south toward Chicago, around Lake Michigan, through a bit of Indiana, and then north east until you hit the blue collar city that’s home to about 100,000. That’s the trip Milwaukee Bishop Nathaniel Stampley and Damion Thompson are planning to make this week to deliver bottled water.
“Everyone, especially in this country, should have safe drinking water. I mean we’ve traveled to Africa recently, I’ve been to Cuba and these other like really rural areas, and they don’t have drinking water. That should not happen in what’s considered to be the leading nation in the world,” Thompson says.
Now, for the sake of full disclosure I should admit, the crisis in Flint for me goes beyond the news coverage. I was born and raised there and the majority of my family has decided to stay in Flint. While the crisis there has been going on for well over a year, it didn’t hit major news outlets until recently. Thompson says he found out via social media where some people were making light of the situation.
“If you’ve ever seen those Kermit the Frog memes with the tea…and it was saying you thought this was tea but its Flint water or something like that. Like I seen memes and I was like what?” Thompson says.
Now Thompson and Bishop Nathaniel Stampley are using social media as one way to get the word out about them collecting donations. On Sunday morning, Stampley told his congregation that death is sometimes in our food and water because things are done out of convenience instead of what is ethical. Stampley’s church is not full of rich people. In fact, it and many of its members live in the heart of Milwaukee’s impoverished inner city. Still, Stampley says when there is work to be done anywhere, his congregation and people from across the city step up.
“We don’t debate, we don’t wait for grants funds, we go and help our people, make a difference. We’re going to go there and take supplies, speak into their lives and let them know that we care. There’s a God greater than the governor Snyder, greater than the politics and so we walk by faith. We know who we are,” Stampley says.
As we sit in the church, people start to drop off donations. Anthony Mosely brought three cases of water and says he’ll be back with more.
“Water is very essential. You know, its life sustaining and it continues. I mean how much water is enough? That’s a hard question for anybody to answer so it’s something that has to remain consistent for everybody,” Mosley says.
Bishop Stampley and Damion Thompson have rented a 26 foot truck to fill with water. They plan to leave early Wednesday.
On their way to Flint, they’ll stop in Chicago to pick up donations people there are making.
Donations are being accepted between the hours of 9 am - 5 pm at Least of These International Ministries, located at 1036 W Atkinson Avenue in Milwaukee.