“She touches so many lives, bringing forth life. China, Vietnam and Cambodia respectfully address her as The Great Mother. And even though we think we can stand on our own, we keep going back to her for nourishment.
The great Mekong River provides the food for millions of families, caressing the land so that crops and fruit trees grow. We find ways to purify her waters to quench our thirst. She takes us places, transfers goods and attracts people from around the world to marvel at her beauty.
Mother Mekong has another side to her that people fear. At times she displays her anger and might, pouring her waters over huge tracks of land. Some people refuse to give way. They challenge her strength by surrounding their villages with walls and fortresses. Most of the time this is to no avail and Mother Mekong whips them where they least expect it. They suffer for their stubbornness. Other children know it is wise not to stay too close, building their homes beyond her stinging lashes. The wisest of her children let her anger pass through underneath their stilt houses, knowing that her mood will pass.
But mighty as she is, the Mekong is showing her vulnerability. We have filled her waters with trash of all kinds, thinking she could cope with it all, but day by day we are poisoning her. As she chokes her life force ebbs away. We rob her of her role as a life giver.
Mekong is a complex being. But, in reality, it does not take a genius to understand her, if we take the time to watch her moods and her health. As children we have taken from this mother. Now, as we grow we must learn a give and take relationship that will protect both mother and child.
For centuries the Mekong River looked after herself, as she looked after us. Today, we must learn to look after her in return. We are all sons and daughters of the water.”
-Charles Bautista, Philippines
From Water Stories, edited by Sascha de Graaf