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Water Preservation Efforts Lead to UN Conference Invitation for Winthrop Student

Quick Facts

 Omileye Achikeobi-Lewis is a graduate student from Lancaster, S.C., majoring in counseling and development
 She and her husband founded the YeyeOsun Institute of Sacred Balance.

ROCK HILL, S.C. -- For nearly a decade, Winthrop University graduate student Omileye Achikeobi-Lewis has worked to raise awareness about protecting our rivers and earth for the next generation.

Along with her husband, the Lancaster, S.C.-based counseling and development major founded the YeyeOsun Institute of Sacred Balance and Humanity4Water Awards, both dedicated to this goal. Through their institute, they create experiences for people to “be with the water and earth” and hear inspiring stories. She is also the author of several books, available on her website.

Their efforts merited an invitation to September’s UNICEF Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) in New York. The alliance is a group of world faith and cultural leaders who are striving to reach the United Nations’ 2015 target of providing every child with sustainable, clean water and improved sanitation conditions.

“As I have always believed, the state of our waters and earth is a reflection of the present inner state of humanity right now,” she said. “It was wonderful to see that there were many others who have connected this dot – the wholeness within creates wholeness on our earth.”

In March, Omileye was invited to the UN World International Wings of Water conference but was unable to attend. However, she was still able to lend an impressive contribution to the conference’s international water debate online with her editorial, “Ubuntu-Water Shows the Way.” This landed her a role on the UN reference committee and led to her participation at GIWA.

She said it was a blessing to be with groups from numerous faiths, cultures, ages and backgrounds who focus on the same goals.

“What was wonderful was to also see ‘the gift’ in the situation,” she said. “The gift in this is that we are now all being pulled together in a compassionate and loving way, and being reminded of social obligation to look after our mother waters and earth.”

While at the conference, Omileye and her son, Kem Ra, handed out several of their Humanity4Water Awards, including one to a 10-year-old girl who had raised money to provide fresh drinking water in Africa. They also conducted an international water blessing, in which water from 20 sacred rivers was poured by all leaders in attendance.

Omileye took away several lessons from the conference that she will keep with her, such as: it takes a village to heal the world and make it secure for children; it’s important to bring the youth into the sustainable earth discussion; and you have to keep doing what is right.

For more information visit Omileye's website.

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