During the first 100 Litres trip to Ireland, my team and I got the opportunity to join in on a local, 2-day Political Economy course, led by Stephen Nolan of Trademark Belfast. After the crash in 2008, the trade union movement designed these courses to help explain the global financial crash and the ongoing grab for natural resources – like water – to concerned and curious citizens all over the country.
My team and I jumped at the chance to see this course being taught to a group of local, grassroots organizers with Right2Water/Right2Change Ireland. When searching for places to stay, someone mentioned that Maeve and Terry Curtis were also taking the course and may be able to host us. While chatting with some of the Right2Change coordinators to get the scoop on this woman, Maeve, they described her as, “a mother, a grandmother, and fighter.”
After the Curtis family agreed to host us and before heading over, I also asked other grassroots, community organizers about Maeve.
They all said, “she’s straight as an arrow, that Maeve Curtis.”
Needles to say, I was a little scared to meet her.
When arriving at the Curtis home, Maeve and Terry welcomed us with open arms, showed us around their house, and prepared a cup of tea. Terry was full of jokes and Maeve was already packing our lunches for the next day and preparing dinner. Their home was warm, welcoming, and full of laughter. After spending days on the road, myself and the other weary visitors who joined me finally felt like we were home.
Once Maeve and I finally got some one-on-one time and started chatting, I realized that all of the prior statements about her were absolutely true. However, her approach wasn’t as forceful as I expected. She was full of facts, figures, and sage advice, but this was all wrapped in a maternal concern for the future generations of Ireland and beyond. As a mother and grandmother, she felt she had to be a fighter in order to give her children and grandchildren a better future. She spoke of love and care for others who are in need and instead of seeing her as only a fighter, I saw her as a true humanitarian. The way she spoke pierced right through me and I couldn’t wait to interview her.
The interview I had with Maeve was one of my favorites. We did it very early in the morning, when the light was just right. I sat in my pajamas, sipping coffee while Maeve was already dressed and ready to fire away. I was a little scared of her intensity so early in the day, but once we started rolling I could tell she spoke directly from her heart. The hour-long interview was filled with tears, hugs, and laughter. As we were talking, the pressure of the camera disappeared and I could feel all of her frustrations and hopes in her answers. Afterwards, she gave me a hug and thanked me for the chance to share her story.
As I reflect on that early morning, I am filled with gratitude for my time in the Curtis home and for the amazing interview I had with Maeve. Their house was like an extension of my home and the thought that something as inhumane as water privatization could easily happen in any home, anywhere in the world, solidified for me that day. This is why she fights and this is why I’m sharing these empowering stories of humanity and hope.
Please enjoy a few excerpts from my interview with Maeve in our newly released short “It’s Our Water.”