Hello, my name is Mina Haddad and I am from the Presbytery of the Ohio Valley. I am speaking in favor of overture 08-04 [on Environmental Justice]
I am a proud Presbyterian and a proud teacher. This past year, through the Fulbright program, I had the honor of teaching English to 300 Muslim girls in India and, as the story goes, they taught me far more than I could have ever taught them. My girls taught me about hospitality, devotion, and struggle. They are the reasons I walked 212 miles in support of divestment from fossil fuels to be here, with you, today.
See, both literally and figuratively, my girls are stuck. They are living in the highly populated heart of Jaipur where, in October, the pollution rolls in and stays well into the month of March. This means they cough, a lot. Their hair is covered in black specks. They blow their noses and their mucus is black. Clean water is much harder to come by. Over the course of those 6 months, my girls are eating, learning, playing and sleeping in pollutants 24/7.
One day, I was talking with my student Raya and, in her broken English, she said, “Ma’am, in our life no fun, no enjoy. Sad life.” And, in that moment, all I could say, in my broken Hindi, was, “Raya, maaf kigiye,” which means, “Raya, I am so sorry.”
By approving this overture before you today, you can help me respond to Raya’s struggle and the struggle of countless other young children around the world. We need to acknowledge the need for environmental justice and take meaningful, bold steps towards alleviating the injustices because, quite frankly, it’s the least we can do.
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