On February 5th, I attended the One Book, One Richmond lecture where Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician responsible for leading the fight against lead in the water of Flint, Michigan presented on her work. In conversation with Dr. Karen Remley, Dr. Hanna-Attisha discussed her book, “What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resilience, and Hope” and explained her choice of including her history as an immigrant family. I appreciate how she chose to immediately honor her roots and that she chose to highlight that it was “impossible to tell the story without saying where [she] came from”. Her family immigrated to the United States for the American dream, the idea of freedom and the power of democracy. As someone who grew up surrounded by the Latinx community, I could share in that pride and felt even more invested into her story.
The most important part of the event was learning how what they are implementing in Flint, Michigan is beginning to gain national attention. Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s office is located on the second floor of a farmer’s market, so she began to issue “nutrition prescriptions”. This $15 coupon could be used for fruits and veggies to help encourage children to improve their nutrition. This program will soon be replicated across the U.S. They also started the Flint Kids Read program, funded by the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, to overcome their previous statistic of 1 book per 300 children. In many ways, Flint is working to lift each other up and invest in their future through health, education and social justice. In the end, I was grateful to hear the words of wisdom Dr. Hanna-Attisha shared and resonated with her push for [college students] to pursue our own passions. She stated the best way to help Flint would be to find a social justice issue we are passionate about and open our eyes to the problems around us.