The Norman Transcript


September 25, 2013

Speaker discusses importance of sanitation projects worldwide



At the end of her work in Sierra Leone, Oko-Williams said people had started to address other community problems and the community was in repair.

Not only does clean water bring together communities, but it can give people a sense of purpose, she said.

While working in Ujol, Nigeria, Oko-Williams encountered an illiterate woman who helped educate her community in an attempt to stop open defecation. The woman told Oko-Williams that she could die happy because everywhere she went, people recognized her as a teacher.

“This is so much more than just putting a latrine in a town,” Oko-Williams said.

Oko-Williams said the waTER Conference had been beneficial to her work, especially in the areas of entrepreneurship and the technical side of obtaining physical access to water.

“I learned there is enough groundwater for people, and how to get it is actually the problem,” Oko-Williams said. “Fluoride in the water, this always seemed daunting, but ... I realize that it’s possible.”

Additionally, the waTER Conference encouraged communication and discussion between Norman school children with a poster contest.

Oko-Williams presented winners of the contest with a money prize. Students from Dimensions Academy, All Saints Catholic School, Alcott Middle School and Lincoln Elementary and one home-schooled student won prizes.

Gustav Ruiz, first-place winner of the 9-12 grade division, said he was inspired from his travels to Mexico, where he saw people get water out of a well.

“So many people don’t know clean water isn’t available to many; finding out is a big impact on you,” Ruiz said.

Second-place winner of the 9-12 division, Siarra Williams, agreed with Ruiz and said, “Learning so many facts, like the fact that flushing a toilet uses six liters of water, well, that really makes you want to help.”

Emily Rockers, 6-8 grade division second-place winner, said she knew clean water was important because everything living needs it. In response to such enthusiasm from students, Oko-Williams said she hoped many of them would work with her some day to achieve clean water for everyone.


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