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Talk links pollution, climate change

Erica Maurice
Staff Writer

To celebrate World Food Day, ASULV President Ava Jahan­vash brought to campus a Ugandan farmer to talk about the issues of climate change and food security.

Constance Okollet, an Oxfam speaker, shared her story of dealing with pollution and climate change in a developing country.

“We used to have two seasons, but now the seasons are no longer there,” Okollet said. “ We have no idea when the seasons will happen.”

Okollet left her home to spread an important message about how pollution from developing countries is affecting crops in villages like hers, which do not even use electricity, and how the polution affects climate change.

“Once everything was swept away by floods from storms, only one house was left,” Okollet said.

Everyone moved into this one house, she added. Following the storm came a six-month drought, leaving the village without food.

“Parents are living without food so they can feed their children,” Okolett said.

When a power company built a plant nearby, chemicals poisoned their water supply.

“Children were dying from the contamination,” Okollet said. “We prayed to God because we didn’t know why this was happening.”

The company said that they would provide them with power and health centers, but nothing ever happened.

When they complained the company just ignored them.

When Oxfam came and explained how the climate changes come from pollution, Okollet didn’t understand how humans could do this.

For a brief moment she was angry, but then said she realized that because God was not the culprit, things could change.

Her mission is to cut pollution, not only for her country or her village, but everywhere, Okollet said.

“Most people in the United States do not know how our pollution and the pollution from developed countries are causing such an effect on the world,” said Jay Jones, professor of biology and biochemistry.

“If people could come and see, I think there would be a faster change because the Okollet you see here is not the Okollet you would see in my village,” Okkollet said.

She described when a couple visited her village after hearing her speak. Okolett took them to a site where a mud slide had killed people. She said the woman became hysterical when she saw the tractor pulling dead bodies out of the mud.

“Instead of a person just teaching, we got to hear from a person who went through it herself,” Jahanvash said.

“We had the ability to connect with someone who was actually being affected.”

Oxfam is an international network of organizations that – through education and other programs – work to help people move out of poverty and opression and have more control over their own lives.

Erica Maurice can be reached at erica.maurice@laverne.edu.

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