Archive for February, 2018

We are living in the times when life doesn’t seem to hold much meaning. Whether it is the life of an animal, a plant, or a human being. The essence of life has reduced almost to the point of nothingness. It seems that anything else is better than a living thing.

From the arguments due to climate change to those concerning pollution in the cities,  to deforestation, poaching, immigration, etc, the outstanding concept is that we no longer care about life. We are inconvenienced by life. We hate life. The pursuit of the nonliving things, money and material resources, is being carried out at the expense of everything else, even ourselves. We are in bondage.

In Kenya, in the impoverished, marginalized regions of Mombasa, a place called Owino Uhuru, a chemical company has been poisoning its workers and the neighbouring community with lead. The company has been producing lead from recycling old car batteries. It has been operating at night to avoid detection, emitting fumes laden with lead into the air and also releasing the untreated wastewater into streams used by the community for washing, cooking, and cleaning.

Workers at the plant faced the most direct exposure to chemicals. They were provided one pair of flimsy cotton gloves per month, which quickly disintegrated after a few days. Once the gloves were gone, workers continued work with bare hands. In contrast, managers entering the factory did so in full protective gear.

One woman, Phyllis Omido, has been been fighting for the closure of the company.

Phyllis was first hired to manage the plant’s community relations. Her first task was to put together an environmental impact report. She found out what they were doing to the community, and, instead of protecting the company as is common in most such instances, she exposed them.

One of her first tasks was to put together an environmental impact report. Working with a team of experts, she found that the plant’s proximity to the local community left residents vulnerable to dangerous chemicals—and that the plant was likely operating under illegally obtained permits. Her report recommended closing the factory and relocating, but management dismissed the recommendations and removed Omido from the project.”

About three months later, she found out that she herself had become so poisoned with lead that her own breast milk was in turn making her infant son violently ill.

With a little encouragement, she founded an NGO, the Center for Justice, Governance, and Environmental Action (CJGEA) and convinced the government health department to test local community members for lead. The results confirmed her worst fears. All her three children had very high levels of lead poisoning. Soil tests also showed lead levels increased almost tenfold from 2008 to 2009, when the plant became operational.

Equipped with this data, she began to actively seek the shutdown of the plant. Her efforts were in vain, and the company hit back. She was arrested, attacked by armed men, and forced into hiding.

She never gave up, though. Her bravery eventually paid off.

the NGO she founded, the Centre for Justice, Governance, and Environmental Action, has already forced the closure of the plant and is now pushing the courts to secure compensation for the victims and a clean-up of the community.

They have gathered thousands of local residents in a class action against the government and two companies – Metal Refinery EPZ Ltd and Penguin Paper and Book Company (no connection with the global publishing company) for 1.6bn Kenyan shillings (£11.5m) compensation and a clean-up of contaminated land.

Two years after the suit was launched, the plaintiffs will be called as witness for the first time on 19 March in the environment and land court.

Her story can be found here and here.

Her website is here

Portrait of Phyllis

Phyllis Omido, environmental activist

 

This is the eleventh celebration of the WE ARE THE WORLD BLOGFEST #WATWB which is carried out every last Friday of the month, and which aims to spread love and positiveness in this vulnerable world. A celebration of heroes who can still restore our faith in humanity, especially in this period when our world seems to be full of endless series of horrible happenings.

Our generous co-hosts for this month are:   Inderpreet UppalShilpa Garg, Eric Lahti, Roshan Radhakrishnan, and myself.

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To sign up for We Are The World Blogfest, please see the guidelines below.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

  1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.
  2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Something like this news  about a man who only fosters terminally ill children.
  3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.
  4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.
  5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.
  6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List
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