Mona’s parents had fled Iraq during the time when Saddam’s reign had poisoned citizens and killed them. She grew up in America and took pride in giving the best service to the babies in her pediatric career. She taught the interns in her residency program to learn about the community they serve in. Walking into this crisis in 2011 brought back images of all those who suffered in Iraq.
Once questions surfaced as to the water crisis and possible coverup in Flint, Michigan, she decided to fight for the health of all its children. She began by testing for lead blood levels in patients. She and the three others who began researching the topic faced pushback from local state officials denying any problems existed.
After an eight month ordeal, she finally got them to admit the legitimacy of her concerns. Her proposal for action included declaring a state of emergency, providing water filters, bottled water and pre-mixed formula. Lead was found in drinking water at three schools.
The problem began when the water supply was switched from Lake Huron to the Flint River in an effort to save money. The Flint River had been a toxic dumping ground for years.
After the crisis was exposed, some officials lost jobs, some had criminal charges filed against them and those who remained in office at least had the nation’s eyes watching them.
Dr. Mona and partners created FlintKids.org to provide an array of services to help the children of Flint heal and have hope for a future. They also partner with the Imagination Library program to bring books to children to promote early childhood literacy.
By fighting for the residents of Flint, Mona not only saved them from harm, she gave her family something they could take pride in. Their plight for freedom in a free country had not been in vain. She may not have been able to prevent what happened in Iraq but in America she was able to make her voice heard to make change happen.
Having the courage to speak up came at a price. When we read about inspiring stories, we don’t know the sacrifices made behind the scenes. We just admire the outcome. Heroes are usually ordinary people who did what they knew to be the right thing to do.
I’m sure to the kids of Flint, Michigan, Mona is their hero. Now they have been given a voice.