Blue Morals

I remember one day I walked into my home after school, my father was in tears and had not yet broken his fast. After I succeeded in convincing him to eat, he requested that I listen in private and so I did. My father could see the challenging future I was about to face, yet how could I know when I was barely nineteen years of age? He recommended that I hold on to courage and faith, and that I remember the strength of those whom I might or should leave behind, wisdom in choices, justice in actions, and if I speak let it be the truth even if it leads to an unpleasant ending. My siblings and I may have not had the greatest childhood, but we had the greatest father, a warrior, and a mother that did better than her best to ensure our safe survival.  

We experienced serious issues and shortages with water. My mother was one of the hundreds of women who traveled miles searching for a source of water, but how much can one woman carry this burden across many miles through cold and heat? She must have ignored her pain to protect us, her needs to provide for us, her own sufferings to ensure our survival, and she must have lost the feeling of life just to see us prosper of ours.

My siblings and I could hear the door lock when my mother would leave very early in the morning, while it was still dark, and we were still asleep. She would disappear for long hours and come back with a small bucket of water. We were happy and very delighted but not for seeing our mother return home. We were selfish kids—we just wanted the water! When my mother would arrive home, she would sit the water down but not allow anyone to touch it! We were thirsty and wanted to drink water, in fact we tried, but my mother had the meanest and scariest look in her eyes! She would tell us, “I will beat you up if you try to touch the water”. Of course, as a child, I could not understand why my mother acted the way she did. I just couldn’t believe her behavior and thought it was the most unacceptable act of a mother towards her children and that she was wrong. 

Later when I grew a little older, and had to be part of the water collecting, I realized that my mother acted sternly for a reason. I understood that she didn’t mean any harm, but she had to ignore her motherly heart so her children wouldn’t waste hours of walking. She wouldn’t boil the water. She said, “Every drop counts,” so we had no way to purify our water, because that would waste drops that could make a difference in our lives.  I also remember that there were days when there was barely a trickle coming out of the faucet so my siblings and I stayed up all night to collect water for the next several days. Sometimes, the water would cut off again before we collected enough to drink!

As a child, I wasn't able to connect the dots between contaminated water and my degrading health. I felt and believed that I didn’t need pity from anyone; I was just waiting for a hope, for a miracle, for a change, and for a help from someone. Because I am the one who suffered the longest between my siblings, my health issues became a family joke simply because Iraqi hospitals could not offer any cures or answers to my parents. During discouraging economic times, I watched my father work extremely hard and invest the money and energy into my health not knowing that the main source of my health problems was water, the life-source of our lives.

When I started my research and involvement in water and environmental issues, I was shocked by the reality of the water quality that some people here in the US have to deal with. I didn't know that it was even possible for Americans to suffer 2nd or 3rd world problems, so I don't blame you if you share my ignorance of these issues. I do ask you to take the effort and think of the reasons that might force you to leave your homeland. To me, I was forced out of my homeland because of war and violence, but many families in Eastern KY are forced out of their homeland because of the contamination of their water.

During my first conversation with Rick Handshoe, a KFTC member from Floyd County, I was prepared to hear some of the struggles he and his family experienced due to water contamination. However, I wasn’t prepared to feel his deep emotions and his desperation for solutions. I also felt Rick’s hope for change, his courage to stand up for rightness, and his determination to make things better for himself, his family, and his community. As I am determined to write for water, I feel more encouraged by Rick’s moral stance for his community, his country, and for his planet.

Please check out Rick's story by clicking here.  Also see more about him, and what he is doing in attempt to save his life and his community from contaminated water by clicking here.


Megan Casey is a student, a writer, and an advocate who cares deeply about the growing water issues facing humanity. Having experienced water shortages as a child in Iraq, Megan speaks with an undeterred passion about the universal right to clean water. She believes that those who have been silenced by injustice have a voice that must be heard. She joined KFTC in May 2013 and has been a dedicated and active member ever since. You can read her blog at

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