"Save one life, you save the world." ~Torah
Mother's Day. Two simple words that conjure up memories of large family gatherings, bountiful baskets of spring flowers, and brunches overflowing with scrumptious food and a bottle (or two) of Perrier-Jouët.
The world somehow feels renewed every Mother's Day, when children thank their mothers for their unconditional love, and for the lessons they have learned. Look both ways before crossing the street. Never talk to strangers. Remember to say "please" and "thank you." And always -- always -- respect your elders.
But one thing our mothers never needed to teach us was whether our drinking water was contaminated.
Recently, I was invited to hear Hallie Tamez, Associate Director of Development at WaterAid, speak about her organization, and how they help "transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in the world's poorest communities."
As a mother and someone profoundly interested in the welfare of others, I was deeply moved by Hallie and her efforts at WaterAid.
Read about how Hallie got interested in working for WaterAid, and why her heart will always remain in Nepal. (NOTE: Kleenex Alert)
"The people in this region of the world are some of the poorest and most forgotten. They live without clean water, electricity, roads, or transportation. Yet they are some of the hardest working, most determined people I have ever encountered.
My story starts with Sangita, a somber young girl. Two years ago while visiting her children's home in a remote mountain community thousands of miles from the capital city of Kathmandu, a desperate father came from his village clutching his infant daughter, Laxmi.
Laxmi was severely malnourished and very tiny - her skin was dry and her eyes were listless. He pushed the infant into my arms, and blurted out his wife could not take care of the baby. He left Laxmi in our care, and Sangita took over! This little baby became her passion. It was our passion, too.
Four months later, a robust and healthy little Laxmi was ready to go home. It was an emotional but proud day for Sangita when Laxmi was returned to her family.
If only the story ended there, but unfortunately contaminated water sources and diarrheal disease came calling...
Two months later I was back in the mountains anxious to see how baby Laxmi was faring. I trekked 4 hours to her village but arrived to devastating news.
Little Laxmi had died just a week before of diarrhea and dehydration - caused by dirty water.
To be nurtured back to good health, returned to her family only to die from a completely preventable illness was the greatest tragedy and injustice of all.
I keep a photo of Sangita and Laxmi close to my heart, and it is Laxmi's story that fuels my passion to see that more Laxmi's don't die needlessly.
Together we must solve this crisis.
Unfortunately, Laxmi is just one of the 2,000 children who die every day from preventable water-related diseases. Children are the most vulnerable. The potential of the next generation is being tragically compromised by the lack of access to clean water and sanitation in the developing world.
But there is great news! There are communities in Nepal and around the world where women and children are now living a very different life thanks to WaterAid interventions, and the communities commitment to managing their clean water -- water is just the beginning!"
In honor of Mother's Day, and for mother's around the world who want their children to remain healthy, consider buying a lifesaving gift from Water Aid. The best gift you can give to anyone is one that helps to save a life.
Do it for Laxmi. Do it for a mom. Do it for yourself.