I don’t know about you but my childhood memories revolve around water. Running through the sprinklers on a hot day, trips to the beach and a lot of sweltering afternoons in suburban swimming pools. MARIAM
is an arts worker
who grew up in the Philippines before migrating to Australia. We had a chat to Mariam about her chilhood memories.
From age 4 to 13 I lived in Manila and Mandaluyong. In the neighbourhood I lived in there was crime, homelessness and poverty, so keeping your wits about you was a part of life. People also got sick a lot due to contaminated water, so my family were always careful when drinking water at school, at other people’s houses, at restaurants. Basically, safe water meant warm water.
From an early age I got used to the idea that drinking safe water meant boiling it first. Water-related diseases were common, and sometimes you would see hints of bacteria floating in the water.Vegetables and fruits needed to be washed with hot water, you brushed your teeth with heated water and if you wanted to drink iced water (which is the tendency with Filipino weather) your ice cubes would need to be heated before freezing.
I was amazed at the privilege Australians have with their water supply! For so many years I was brought up to heat my water, to shower with pails and buckets, to conserve water, conserve water, conserve water! Then I migrated to Australia in 1996, and I didn’t have to do any of these things anymore. I could just put a glass underneath a tap and drink it straight away. The tap water was so clear, and naturally cold! I could launder my clothes in these machines, I could take regular showers and swim in pools.
I believe people need to spare a thought for third world countries whose health and lifestyle suffer regularly because they do not share the same privileges. As capable, courteous human beings, we need to do whatever we can to help, even if it's through spreading awareness, donating to causes, and supporting products that are devoted to making a difference. So often people forget about the predicaments of our Asian neighbours simply because they are ‘out of sight, out of mind.' But the issue of water contamination is real, and people do die from drinking infected water, or not having proper access to sanitised water.
We in Australia are definitely in a position where we can make a difference, and I'm a big believer that even one individual can make an impact.