Mission and Vision

Amman Imman's mission is to empower the world's most underserved and vulnerable indigenous populations by addressing their most essential needs. Serving as a conduit between these populations and the western world, Amman Imman also raises awareness and engages individuals of all ages to take action.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lisa Wexler's radio interview with Ariane Kirtley


WFAS 1230 New York radio talk show host Lisa Wexler interviewed Ariane Kirtley in January, 2014 about her work in Niger with Amman Imman: Water is Life. Here are excerpts from their conversation:

Lisa: Ariane Kirtley is founder and director of an organization called Amman Imman Water is Life. It's a charitable organization that's devoted to building water wells for people in Niger. Ariane earned a BA in anthropology from Yale, a masters in public health in 2004 from the Yale School of Public Health, and then was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to return to Niger to conduct public health research among minority populations. That's where she's decided to devote her life, to improve the living conditions of 500,000 people in this remote area of the world that frankly I never heard of before. Ariane Kirtley, welcome to the Lisa Wexler show today! Hi! 

Ariane: Hello! Thank you so much for having me on the show.  

Lisa: Well, it's a pleasure! ....First of all, you have to tell us because most of us are geographically dumb....where is Niger?

Ariane: It's a land-locked country in West Africa. It borders Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Libya, Nigeria.  

Lisa: Tell me about the demographics, the culture, the ethnicity....tell me a little bit about the people.

Ariane: There are about 17 different ethnic groups that are very culturally distinct. The region where I work are mostly the Tuareg and Fulani people. But you also have the Hausa and the Zarma, and many other minority groups. The national language is French. It's 98-99% Muslim.

Lisa: .....how is Niger doing?

Ariane: It's very challenging.... I work in a specific region of Niger (the Azawak). Because Niger is huge. But all of Niger is considered one - if not the -  poorest country in the world. It is land-locked. It's often 120 degrees. There are very few resources. More recently Al Qaeda has become a real threat. Many humanitarian organizations have left because of the threat of Al Qaeda. They struggle with famine, lack of water --  but it's a beautiful country nonetheless.

Lisa: Tell me about this devotion to the people and what you are doing there.

Ariane: I grew up partly in Niger, but I had not grown up in the Azawak. I went there for the first time in 2005 as a researcher. Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, so I was used to seeing people in poverty, very hungry, dying from contaminated water. But I had never seen people dying of thirst. I went to this region and I saw kids -- these beautiful kids that were so wonderful with me, laughing and playing -- traveling over 30 miles a day looking desperately for water. And I had never seen this type of struggle at all. And the other thing I had never seen --  there was no one there to help them. The government wasn't helping them; there were no NGOs helping them access water. My husband encouraged me to be the first to help them. He didn't know what that would mean. He didn't know that we would completely devote our entire life to the people of the Azawak valley in Niger. But ever since that time we've been bringing sustainable water sources and other types of assistance to the people.

Lisa: How do you bring water to this land-locked country? Are we talking about diverting lakes or rivers? Or do you dig?

Ariane: The people (of the Azawak) used to live off of marshes that would form thanks to the rain. But the rainy season in the past 10 years has gone from 5 months to literally 1 month or less. So, they no longer have the marshes. Underground water is 600 feet or deeper.  So, we hire in-country contractors to come to this remote area of the country and drill 600 feet into the ground.

Lisa: They can go 600 feet down?!

Ariane: Yeah....it's very expensive. The local people try (to reach water), and they'll dig and dig for years. I ran into one community that dug for 8 years and never reached water. But if you have the proper machinery and the financial means to do so you can drill a well basically.....

Lisa: If you go 600 feet down, will you hit water no matter where you are in the valley? 

Ariane: Yes, everywhere (in the Azawak) which is not always the case in other places (in Niger). But here there's water everywhere...it's like a big underground lake, a big underground aquifer that's everywhere, a sustainable aquifer. 

Lisa: How do you keep the water clean when it comes up, when the people's sanitary habits and infrastructure is so poor?

Ariane: Wow, that's a great question.  That's part of our work.  We have to do a lot of work in hygiene and sanitation. The water comes up clean but to make sure it stays clean they have to change certain habits. They are used to drinking alongside their animals. We have to teach them that they have to maintain their containers clean, and they have to wash their hands.  So, that's a big part of our work.

Lisa: Do you have any help now that you've made inroads?  Do you have government support? 
We have government support.  They don't support us financially but they definitely support our work.  We've built up a local team that understands the cultures and traditions.  We work with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education.

Lisa: How much does it cost to build one of these wells?

Ariane: One of these wells costs anywhere from between 170K- 200K to build.

Lisa: How do you fund your organization?

Ariane: We are working with an amazing foundation here in America, the Vibrant Village Foundation. Another part of what we do here in America is we work with over 100 schools. The students in schools are our partners. They raise money for us, and awareness for us. In that sense we not only help children in Niger, but we also help children here gain a greater awareness of the world, and compassion.....we call them our "Heroes of Compassion", and so that's who we work with as well.   

Lisa: That's beautiful. What's your website if people want to find out more about you? 


Lisa: Ariane Kirtley, thank you for the work you are doing. I'm sure the people of Niger are so grateful. It's a beautiful thing that you are doing every single day. I wish you health and wealth -- not the kind of wealth from money, but the kind that comes from knowing that your life's work is meaningful.

Ariane: Absolutley. Well, thank you much, Lisa, for having me on your show, and have a wonderful new year!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Good luck MCM runners and SC Team! And a $30,000 gift for Couloubade!

Dear Friends of the Azawak,
The Vibrant Village Foundation has once again pronounced itself a hero for the Azawak by contributing over $30,000 for a food project in our most recent borehole community, Couloubade. With this award, Amman Imman will be creating a woman’s run cereal bank and boutique this winter.

We hope to make a significant difference to the Fulani women of Couloubade, who currently travel up to six months a year in neighboring Chad, Nigeria, and Libya to make meager earnings selling traditional medicine and potions. During these difficult times, they leave their families behind, sometimes even their breastfeeding children, who are then taken care of by their husband’s co-wives. Creating vibrancy and stability in the community will reduce their time away from home as economic opportunity becomes more readily available locally.

Click to watch the video!

This generous gift has arrived at an opportune time, during the last week of training and preparations for both our Marine Corps Marathon runners, and our Solidarity Challenge Team (click here to see the video). I want to personally send a message of thank you to our runners and SC challengers! Good luck on the 27th as together we create a worldwide movement for the Azawak!!!

Yours for the Azawak,

Ariane

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Watch our new video! And join our Solidarity Campaign!

Click here to watch the video

Dear Friends of the Azawak,

On October 27th, 18 runners will complete the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. for Amman Imman. There is still time to be a part of our worldwide movement in solidarity with our marathon runners and our communities in the Azawak by joining our Solidarity Challenge!!  Click on the link below the image to watch our new Solidarity Challenge video to learn more and be inspired!

Your challenge can be as wide-ranging and creative as you want.  For instance, write a song or poem for the Azawak (we’d happily publish it for you on our website), clean up a stream with your friends and kids, hold a pumpkin carving contest, or join me in running a half marathon. 

Sign up and create your fundraising page on FirstGiving to share with family and friends today!

Yours,
Ariane

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Join our Solidarity Challenge Team, in Solidarity with our Marine Corps Marathon Runners!


Dear Friends of the Azawak,

Last week we published a beautiful and compelling account about the significance of the marathon run to Amman Imman and invited you to run with our 2013 Marine Corps Marathon team. I am delighted to announce that 18 dedicated supporters have joined our Marine Corps Marathon team. To these runners, thank you and good luck as you train for the big day!

I also want to applaud and thank 9-year-old Siena, who has been rallying for Amman Imman since she was in first grade. Alongside her dad, she ran a half marathon this past Sunday, and raised over $3,000 from sponsors to help children her age in the Azawak! Read about Siena's motivation and see her cross the finish line on the Wells of Love blog.

The courage of Siena and our marathon runners has incited me to run in solidarity with them on October 27th, and to launch a worldwide Solidarity Challenge TeamThis team will be composed of supporters from around the world uniting on October 27th by undertaking a significant challenge above and beyond their limit.


I will not be running the Marine Corps Marathon, but instead will be creating my own half- marathon route near my hometown in France. I invite you to choose an activity that challenges you, and tackle it on Solidarity Challenge Day, October 27th. It doesn’t matter where you live: we will be working together, in solidarity with both our marathon team and those journeying marathon distances every day across the Azawak searching for water. Like our marathon runners, our team members will be asked to raise at least $300, thereby helping make a long-lasting impact for the Azawak.

How you can join me and our Solidarity Challenge Team on October 27

Defy your limits! If you aren’t quite ready for a marathon run, there are many other noteworthy and creative challenges you can undertake. No challenge is too small, as long as you are going above and beyond your limit. The importance is that your action has to be significant and challenging for you personally – a goal that won’t be easy, but that you can work toward and look forward to doing with your worldwide “Solidarity Challenge Team” on October 27th, “Solidarity Challenge Day”.

Here are some ideas:
  • Run, bike, swim, hike, or ride your wheelchair a greatly significant distance.
  • Write a song, a play, a poem for the Azawak, and play it, act it, or sing it publically on the 27th (Performers, you can use this as an opportunity to ask for additional sponsorships from passersby)
  • Make a beautiful mural, a painting, or craft honoring our runners and the children of the Azawak, and showcase this artwork on October 27th.  
  • Write a movie for the Azawak and screen it on Solidarity Challenge Day.
  • If you are a doctor, or dentist, or own a business – you can offer free services to the needy on the 27th, and ask your friends to sponsor you.
  • You can carry 6 gallons or more of water on your back or head as you walk for several hours, as our friends do in the Azawak (and not drink any in the process!).  
  • If, like me, you live in the countryside and have neighbors with donkeys (or horses or camels!), you could ride a marathon distance on donkey-back in true solidarity with the children in the Azawak who spend most of their days on their donkeys.  
Let’s get people across the world to join our Solidarity Challenge Team!

No matter where you are in the world, or what you do, you can join our team. Together we can create a worldwide movement for the Azawak in solidarity with our Marine Corps Marathon runners. On top of challenging ourselves, we will come together to show people that even a single day can make a world of difference.

Please sign up here to join our Solidarity Challenge Team! Choose your activity, set up your personal web page to reach out to sponsors, and support our Marine Corps Marathon runners on October 27!

Yours for the Azawak,
Ariane

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What the Marathon Means for Amman Imman

As the August 7th deadline for registering our 2013 Marine Corps Marathon team fast approaches, we have been able to reflect on what the marathon means to Amman Imman.

Running for water – and the marathon in particular – is a significant event for Amman Imman. Although we have worked in Niger’s Azawak Valley for more than seven years, bringing sustainable water sources to thousands of families, not a day passes during the Azawak’s prolonged dry season (now more than nine months long) without children forsaking school, play and their health to make marathon journeys for water. They travel atop dehydrated donkeys with jerry cans strapped to their sides and they walk on their calloused feet across the hot sand. Many of them are too young to remember the days, more than 10, 20 years ago, when their homeland was the greenest, most fertile pasture in West Africa. When rain fell as it should and generously filled marshes from which they drank. But their parents do.

They tell their children of how they used to travel marathons, not out of desperation, but out of custom. As nomads, they moved from one lush grazing pasture to the next, keeping their animals and themselves healthy and ensuring their livelihoods. Their children can hardly believe it now. Since their land began to dry up almost a decade ago, these same nomads have built camps that have been transformed into villages, many around Amman Imman’s five luminous water towers: beaming oases in a desert of sand and thorns.

Times have changed. Adults in the Azawak now travel marathons, not on their feet, but with their hands. In the places untouched by Amman Imman’s assistance, they dig deep into the earth in an attempt to find water. Only unlike past marathons, these journeys are often made in vain. The water table is too deep. Before they reach their cherished Amman, many become covered in dirt, killed by their search for water and for life. As a Charity Partner of the Marine Corps Marathon, we are two days away from our deadline for registering our running team. We encourage you and your friends to consider running in solidarity for those journeying across the Azawak Valley and supporting our efforts to bring water and other development assistance to our friends in the Azawak. For without water, without solidarity for their struggle, there is no hope.

We hope you’ll consider registering for our Marine Corps Marathon team and joining our growing team of runners, or sharing this blog post among your social networking communities, running friends and fitness groups.

Please contact me at laurel@ammanimman.org if you are interested in joining our marathon team or sign up here.

Laurel Lundstrom
2013 Marine Corps Marathon Team Coordinator
Amman Imman

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Join our Marine Corps Marathon Team, Run for the Azawak!


Dear Friends of the Azawak,

I hope this email finds you well and ready as I challenge you to take on the physical feat of your lifetime! In solidarity with the marathons for water still being traveled every day by our friends in the Azawak, we are organizing a team to run the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC on October 27.

I invite all runners to join us and race for the benefit of Amman Imman!
 
As an Official Charity Partner of the Marine Corps Marathon, Amman Imman has more than a dozen open runner slots, which we need to fill by August 7. We’d be so proud and happy to have you as a member of our team! Along with running the marathon, we request that you raise a minimum of $300 to help support additional assistance—food security, livelihood, health, and education programs—for our borehole communities. These funds will also support the construction of a sixth borehole well, because while we continue to rejoice at the sight of the clean, precious water springing from our newest borehole in Couloubade, we are fast thinking to the future.
 
Many more thousands of people are still without access to water in the Azawak region. They travel for 10, 15, 30 miles or more, sometimes a marathon distance to reach one of our boreholes to fill their jerry cans and goat-skinned sacks with enough clean water for the immediate future. Sometimes that water is enough to sustain them and their families until their next journey for water; sometimes it is not.

At Amman Imman, we believe every human has the right to clean water, food, to live their lives in dignity with the hope of a better future. For some in the Azawak, those human rights and ray of hope are still far out of reach. BE hope, as you take on this amazing challenge and 
join us — for 26.2 miles — running in support of all human rights, dignity, and water for the people of the Azawak. 

We also believe in the power of social networks. If you cannot join our marathon team, please post the following link to our marathon team registration page — 
https://ammanimman.org/2013marinecorpsmarathon.html  — on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and to any other social networks you have joined, encouraging your friends to run with us. We offer direct support to our team members as they prepare for the marathon, including the platform for a personal webpage where runners can raise funds and share their stories about what inspired them to run for water.  

Thank you in advance for running for the Azawak, supporting this campaign and helping interested runners find us. 

If you have questions, please contact Laurel, our Run for Water Coordinator, at 
laurel@ammanimman.org

Yours, for the children of the Azawak,
Ariane

Friday, June 7, 2013

Amman Imman at the Reel Water Film Festival on June 15

Join Amman Imman at the Reel Water Film Festival in Bethesda, Maryland on June 15! 

We are very excited to announce that our short film, "Thank you, Merci, Tanimert" will be screened during the Afternoon Splash which begins at 2 pm.  See it on the big screen along with other short films covering a variety of water-related topics.  

The festival will take place at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club.  So, stick around for "dinner and a movie" with CHASING ICE.

We'll also be hosting a table alongside other local nonprofits.  Please stop by and say hello!  


Event: Reel Water Film Festival
When: Saturday, June 15
Time:  Doors Open: 1 PM
            Afternoon Splash: 2 PM
            Dinner & Movie: 6 PM  (dinner 6pm, movie 7:15pm)
Location: Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club
  7719 Wisconsin Avenue
  Bethesda, Maryland 20814             


**The RWFF is a non-profit event that donates at least 50% of  proceeds to water projects in developing countries and right here at home.  The rest of the money stays within the festival to continue for many years to come.**
 
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