Letter from Laura Farruggio about the Ethiopian birth mother of her adopted son, Max:
In 2004 an Ethiopian teenage girl named Etenesh Ermias traveled from her neighborhood in Kalsho to Addis Ababa to find work. While there she became pregnant and returned home. In September 2005 a baby boy was born. His given name translates to mean "the brightest light at the break of day." Unable to care for and feed her child, he was plagued by malnourishment and was always sick. Desperate to save him, and hoping he would have a chance, she and her family placed him with a local orphanage for adoption.
In January 2006, an American woman desperate to be a mother, received a phone call telling her that she had a son. He came home in May 2006. Just eight months old, he was weak and malnourished, but now safe in the arms of America. Seen by the best pediatricians, and provided with vitamins and nutrients . . . he grew strong.
While his parents in America raised him and loved him, we never forgot his birth mother - so imagine the heartbreak when we were told by a friend that my son's birth mother had died three months earlier from malnutrition and Amoebiasis, a condition caused by living in unsanitary conditions and drinking contaminated water. Ironically, this news was like cold water being thrown over me.
I had to sit down and share with my child that his first mother died from something that, not only is preventable, but should never happen in the 21st Century - To die from drinking contaminated water.
Our son is a 7 year old boy who eats half of what is on his plate and tosses the rest when I'm not looking. He pours a glass of water into an large glass and takes a sip before leaving it to grow warm. It is ultimately fed to the kitchen drain. He is American. His birth mother did not have a minimum of what we routinely waste and she is now dead. She is Ethiopian.
Ethiopia demands a face to this crisis and I want the face be Etenesh Ermias of Wolaita Sodo, birth mother to my only son and also to a 5 year old boy named Teddy who is still living in these horrific conditions, and is chronically malnourished as a result.
We cannot let this stand as the norm another day. We cannot watch a benefit concert, read the news and shake our head with an exclamation of "How sad...." We must do something. And we can.
This is not a personal goal. This is a global mission and it must start here for me. I will provide a clean water filtration system to the place where Etenesh Ermias died. I will see to it that not another person there dies from contaminated drinking water. She will not die in vain.
And that is just the start because we will not rest until everyone has safe drinking water. Because for as long as I draw breath I will never again pour a glass of water into a cup and not think of a world of people without. Please help.