A Mother’s Story

Words by Sarah Prescott
11 May, 2013

One thing I’ve discovered is that a mother’s love for her children is universal. No matter where you are in the world, the compassionate heart of a mother can be found everywhere.

In March, while on a trip to Cambodia to visit the projects funded by Thankyou Water drinkers, I met an amazing lady who was an example of this.

When our team arrived at the home of Sun Bo, one of our beneficiaries, I remember noticing her beautiful, soft smile. And so many gorgeous kids running around. She waved to us as we walked up the path and welcomed us in to a shelter attached to the side of her house, signaling to us to come out of the extremely hot Cambodian sun.

Before I could say even say anything, Sun Bo had already begun talking and our interpreter quickly began to translate her words into English for me to understand.

“Welcome to my home and thank you for all the help you have done for me and family. Because of this, we now live much healthier lives and we don’t get sick as often anymore.”

“Thank you,” she said again, with a big smile. I remember feeling extremely humbled as this woman expressed her gratitude to us for the biosand filter (BSF) that had been provided to her and her family. I smiled back at her and replied that it was our honour and we were so glad it had benefited her.

As we stood, with the majority of her seven children and eight grandchildren around us, Sun Bo then began to share with me what her life was like before her family had access to safe water.

“We used to collect water from the nearby community well and sometimes the hand-dug pond. We drank the water, even though it smelled bad. Most of the time, it would make my children and grandchildren very sick with stomach problems and diarrhoea,” she said, and pointed to her kids and grandkids that sat on the bench with her.

During the next part of our conversation, I was given insight into the heart of this lady.

“A lot of our money was spent on going to the doctor and health clinic. It was very hard but we had to keep fighting and go on,” she shared.

She then went on to explain that when the finances had been to difficult to bear, she had crossed the border into Thailand to work the rice fields to provide for her children and grandchildren.

“We needed more money because everyone was sick, so my husband and I went to Thailand to work as labourers for some time.”

At this point, I was struck by the strength and determination of this woman, who left her family to work hard labour in order for their benefit. Even as she talked, I got the sense that this was the very least she would do for her children and grandchildren – that her bounds were endless.

She then shared how through access to safe water, their hardship in regards to finances and health was minimised, due to not being forced to spend money on medical expenses.

“Now, we don’t have as many struggles. I feel peace and an ease because I don’t have to worry anymore,” Sun Bo said.

“Our health is good and we are happy. Thank you,” she said again, as her grandkids played around her.

I could see that peace shine in her eyes as she watched her grandchildren play. It was at this point when I realized that Sun Bo was an amazing example of what a mother should be – one who nurtures, loves but also fights and protects her children.

I also realised that Sun Bo was the glue that held her family together – much like my own mother and many more all over the world.

— Words by Sarah Prescott