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The gift of water this Mother’s Day

Monique’s son Tom was one of 5,000 people who were violently ill during the Hawke’s Bay water crisis in 2016.

Monique’s son Tom was one of 5,000 people who were violently ill during the Hawke’s Bay water crisis in 2016.

The water looked completely normal when we turned on the tap. We had no idea that the water was unsafe which is why so many people got sick.

Initially I thought Tom had a tummy bug. He had a creeping, sharp stomach pain and was lying in a fetal position on the bed. He was struggling to stay warm and battling diarrhoea. He was very pale and couldn’t eat.

Tom and Monique.

The advice was to drink lots of water to prevent dehydration, so we continued to drink water straight from the tap.

Then we heard that there were an awful lot of sick people.

It was really just luck of the draw whether you got contaminated water and whether your immune system could fight it off. It wasn’t until the DHB sent a notification to say that the water had tested positive for Campylobacter that we started boiling the water.

We were in shock when we found out that people had died. We rely on our water to be safe in New Zealand. Over two years later, I was still boiling water for fear of this happening again.

Tom was ill for several days and he had relapses for weeks later. But Tom recovered. Other children aren’t so lucky.

Whenever I hear about a disaster, I always think – How are these mothers getting water for their children?

Do they have a safe and secure supply? If mothers can’t access clean water, I know their children will be getting sick.

Many children around the world only have unsafe water to drink.
Diarrhoea is deadly. Nearly 800 children die every day. As a mother myself, I can’t imagine what it would be like to watch your child die from a disease which is so easily preventable.

The water crisis in Hawke’s Bay has opened my eyes. It made me truly understand the importance of clean water. No mother should have to worry about their child getting sick from dirty water.

I wouldn’t wish this water crisis to happen to anybody but something good has to come out of this.  

It is a fundamental human right to have access to safe water. If we can help every child in the world to have clean water, then we are doing a wonderful thing.

Please donate now to UNICEF's Children's Water Crisis Appeal and help bring fresh, sustainable clean water to vulnerable children around the world.