A Woman Stronger Than An Epidemic

Maeve Newton, Contributing Staff Writer

History is being made, and we are a part of it. The whole world is experiencing the looming uncertainties of tomorrow, but just as we face the concerns of the Coronavirus we can learn from women who rose to similar challenges before us.

Five years ago, Flint, Michigan experienced a tragedy that men, women, and children alike are still recovering from. Although it was not as large-scale as the COVID-19 pandemic, it was still an epidemic. This epidemic was lead poisoning.

Flint, Michigan is a very poor city, with higher poverty rates than the national average. A major factor that played into the 2015 water crisis were Flint’s socioeconomic and racial disadvantages. When the city’s water supply was switched from Lake Huron water to Flint River water, a silent and deadly monster took over. This measure to switch water supplies was done so the state could save a little extra money. Not enough people in high places were willing to speak up, and the children of Flint, the city’s future, paid the price.

To put things into perspective, imagine being told that Chicago’s water supply was going to be switched from Lake Michigan water that we use to the Chicago River. People would be upset and refuse to drink it, for obvious reasons. The main difference from Chicago to Flint is that in Chicago, despite its similarly high poverty rates, has a higher socioeconomic standing. Politics have a greater impact on the development of a city, and in the unjust world we live in, not all politics will be fair.

Not to worry, Flint had a savior who swooped in and took the whole state by surprise. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha came at this crisis, guns a blazing, and not afraid to do whatever it took to help the city she lived in, and the community altogether. As the director of pediatric residency at the Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Dr. Hanna-Attisha felt a strong bond to the community and especially the children.

When she finally learned of the unnoticed lead poisoning that had been going on for months, she was enraged. She used all her power to exploit the breakdown in government policy to make Flint’s tragedy one that the whole country would learn from.

Her persistence and resilience never ceased; in dire times for her patients, and even her own family, she pushed onward. Dr. Hanna-Attisha works in a field that is male-dominated, but that made no difference to her ability to rise to the challenge. Thanks to this incredible woman, Flint is now on its way to recovery.

As more news begins to break in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we as strong Regina girls, can learn from the example of Dr. Hanna-Attisha and remain resilient for the hope of our community and family.