“The water of Mother Earth, she carries life to us, and as women we carry life through our bodies,” wrote Josephine Mandamin in a journal she began on a rainy, cold day in April 2003. “We as women are life-givers, protectors of the water . . .”
That day marked the beginning of a 15,500-mile walk alongside all five Great Lakes. Led by Josephine Mandamin (1942-2019), a grandmother in her sixties and a member of the Anishinabek Nation, the walk began with a handful of women at her side. By the time she finished the walks five years later, thousands of women and men had accompanied her for some portion of the journey.
Her goal was to raise awareness that the health of our water, a sacred gift, was at risk.
Traditionally responsible for the health of children, families and communities, women have been carrying water and caring for water since the beginning of time.
It was Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1890-1998) who changed the perception of the Everglades from a worthless swamp to an essential ecosystem worth protecting. Rachel Carson (1907-1964) brought attention to the use of synthetic pesticides and is credited for launching the environmental movement with her book, Silent Spring. Erin Brockovich unearthed Pacific Gas and Electric’s contamination of groundwater that was affecting the health of Hinckley, CA. Her research was instrumental in a $333 million settlement in 1996 that held the company financially accountable. Forty years ago, in Love Canal, NY, it was Louis Gibbs who transformed herself “from homemaker to hellraiser” to convince then-President Jimmy Carter to remove over 800 families from a neighborhood developed on a toxic dump site. And in 2014, it was Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a woman pediatrician, professor and public health advocate, who exposed the high levels of lead in Flint’s water.
This month we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Despite the all-consuming coronavirus plaguing the planet, and perhaps because of the importance of water in combatting its deadly spread, I am officially launching the Listening to the Voices of Water YouTube Channel. Through the voices of women across religions and spiritual beliefs, across all walks of life and age groups, you will hear about the value of water from a spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental perspective.
Water, the essence of life, touches all.
In this 1 ½ minute trailer, I introduce you to some of the women who have inspired and informed me, and, hopefully, will you, too. Together we can engage in caring for this sacred gift of God. Despite the unruly tear you might notice trickling down my cheek, it is a video of hope as well as a call to action.
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