“When I kept seeing my mom leave the house in the morning and come back in the evening, I thought this was just how our world works. I was young, too young to understand that it's not good to see your mother only two hours a day, especially when she grows up and you need a figure close to you, like your mother, to grow up. My little brother and I learned to grow up without her.

    I grew up in Bulindi, in this rural area in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where life is simple. Where the most important work is getting water by walking for hours and hours. Drinking water is the only reason why we live, why we exist. For people like me, like my family and our community, being able to drink water every day is a privilege. The most important thing of all. Procuring water is tiring and expensive work. I find it frustrating that the day passes so quickly that there is very little time left to do the things I enjoy. I like reading, studying and running in the meadows chasing my little brother.

    I don't want my life to be based solely and exclusively on having to get water for my entire life. Of course it's important to have it, but not have to work so hard to get it. I have always admired my mom for doing this throughout her incredible life. I love her for what she did for us. She was so strong and an important figure within our community. Perhaps it was precisely from her example shown by doing and not saying that my little brother and I learned to grow up.

    The 40lb canister is really heavy for me. I have a hard time carrying it. Contaminated water made my mom sick not long ago – a day where I remember the air having a burning smell. I remember her being exhausted and that she couldn't walk very far. She never recovered from that day. Of our home that was once so warm and loving, we are left with a sadder version of it without her.

    I want to go to school. I want to help the people I love most. I'm a little tired of having to accept and continue to pretend nothing happened."

    We Still

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