pyllis Omido is one mom who you don’t want to mess with. Nicknamed the “East African Erin Brockovich,” Omido is a Kenyan environmental activist who is best known for protesting lead pollution from a smelter Owino Uhuru, leading to its ultimate closure. In 2015, she won the Goldman Enviromental Prize in recognition of her work against toxic and nuclear contamination through the Centre for Justice, Governance and Environmental Action where she serves as founder and chief campaigner.
How did you decide to start the Centre for Justice, Governance and Environmental Action?
For years, I worked in community relations and prepared environmental impact reports. However, it was not until my son, King David, got sick as a baby that I realized the potentially lethal effects of lead poisoning in Mombasa. I began to campaign to shut down the local smelter, but it was not until I was wrongly arrested for organizing a demonstration in 2012 that I started thinking of starting an NGO. After I was arrested, I decided to register Center of Justice, Governance, and Environmental Action (CJGEA) because we were afraid that the police would insist that I was working illegally.