Munang’andu is a mother in Zambia whose 5-year-old son Wise drowned while trying to fetch water from a hole. Read how loss--but also hope for clean water--remain with Munang'andu today.
When communities don't have access to clean water, children and their families are at risk of many dangers: diarrhea and other illnesses like Guinea worm, long walks to carry heavy buckets, and more … sometimes as simple as having to reach down into a hole.
In Zambia, Munang'andu lost her 5-year-old son, Wise, when he fell into a water hole and drowned. He was trying to help her.
Read how loss but also hope for clean water remain with Munang'andu today.
I cover many sad stories for World Vision, but the ones that hurt the most involve the loss of a child.
For a mother, a father, a family, there is nothing more heartbreaking.
From experience, I know this is true.
My family lost a child: my oldest brother, Bill. At 13 months, he died of a brain tumor. Bill’s loss devastated my parents. He’d been crowned “Baby of the Year,” the first child born that January in our town.
Bill did everything early—crawling, walking, smiling, even dancing with gusto to the songs of the Kingston Trio. His death hung like a cloud over our family. For all of our lives, there was always an empty space where Bill should have been.
I recently met a family like mine in Zambia who lost a son. But a tumor wasn’t to blame. It was their water source.
“Because of what happened, our family lives in fear,” Munang’andu, the mother of a little boy named Wise, told me. “We can’t send our children for water. It is our only source of water,” she said. “We live in fear because of the past.”
Munang’andu was the mother of six children—six until Wise died fetching water.
He was only 5.
Wise was a special little boy. The kind of boy you grieve for years after. The kind of boy whose death you never really get past. He was bright and helpful. He was different. He glowed from inside. He was a boy like my brother, Bill.
Wise was always helping his mother. That’s why he died.
Munang’andu had been at a funeral, and when she came home there was so much to do, especially gardening. Munang’andu’s garden is her pantry. It keeps her family fed. The weeds were taking over.
Without her knowing, Wise and his cousin Francis took it upon themselves to fetch water from a deep hole near the house. Wise fell in and his cousin Francis tried to save him. He couldn’t. Francis nearly drowned but was resuscitated.
I asked Munang’andu, how do you get through this?
She answered that she looked heavenward. “God, help me go through this,” she pleaded, “but please don’t make me feel this again.”
And that’s why World Vision’s work in water, sanitation, and hygiene is so critical for mothers like Munang’andu, who will grieve the loss of her son forever.
Villagers used branches to cover up the deep hole where Wise died, but Munang’andu’s family still must fetch water from another hole nearby.
World Vision water experts are working tirelessly to find water near the family’s home so that they and their neighbors can have safe, clean water.
World Vision works to put an end to these sad stories to help answer the prayers of mothers like Munang’andu.
May they be our prayers, too.
Written by Kari Costanza
Photo: ©2014 Jon Warren/World Vision