Mission and Vision

Amman Imman's is dedicated to empowering and preserving Africa's most vulnerable indigenous peoples and engaging school children worldwide as socially conscious leaders.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Amman Imman Villages: Join the Journey

Written by our volunteer: Alicia Russo

Have you heard the saying that someone was “in the right place at the right time”? Well, in simple terms, that is exactly how Amman Imman: Water is Life (AI) began. The story of the organization’s founding is truly inspiring, and the impact that it has had globally since its inception is remarkable.

It has been quite a journey to say the least, and we want to share it with you. None of our work would be possible without the support of our followers. So we hope you will join us as we embark on a special blog series, where we will dive into deep discussions revealing the unique cultures of our African communities and the advances made in each community thus far.

To our consistent followers, we hope that by tuning into this blog series you will feel even more connected with our communities and projects than you do at this very moment. To those of you just joining our efforts, prepare yourselves for what we know will be a heartfelt and inspiring ride. It is our hope that all of you will find encouragement through this series, and that you are reminded of the incredible difference your support is making in the lives of AI’s African communities.

Please join us on the last Wednesday of every month from now until Spring 2016 as we uncover the complete story of Amman Imman’s journey as a humanitarian nonprofit organization. As aforementioned, in each blog post we’ll be exploring AI’s African communities individually, telling stories of the locals that have been shared with us during our time in the field. We’ll cover success stories and explain advancements made in each community, as well as outline what is to be expected in the future. At the end of each post we’ll highlight what the upcoming post will cover, as is done below.

With such diversity across our communities, and so many ongoing projects, this blog series is a big task, but we’re happy to tackle this challenge for you, our dedicated supporters. It is because of you that over 100,000 lives have been saved in the Azawak. Imagine what the future will hold. So please join us in our celebration of what has already happened and what is to come.

We will jump start this series in this post by briefly describing the founding of Amman Imman: Water is Life, for those who are unfamiliar with the story. After all, it is only proper to start a journey at its beginning.

Amman Imman was founded in 2006 by Ariane Kirtley, a young scholar at the time. Ariane happened to be in the right place at exactly the right time. That place was West Africa, where she was conducting research for her Fulbright. Her research assistant was from the Azawak region – a region completely unfamiliar to Ariane at the time - and he begged Ariane to visit his community to see the devastating water crisis his people were facing.

While she received an honored greeting, she was appalled not only by the obvious water crisis, but also the extremely poor living conditions and intense lack of health care throughout the region. Ariane was distraught, and downright worried about the future of these communities and their rich cultures. Sadly, mortality was commonplace in this region. Ariane’s mindset was, and always has been, if a culture is allowed to disappear through neglect or oppression, humanity will lose an irreplaceable treasure. And so Amman Imman was born, and our team has worked tirelessly to empower and preserve Africa’s vulnerable indigenous peoples. Over the years, AI has flourished, and Ariane has grown from a young scholar to one of the world’s top humanitarians. You can learn more about Ariane and AI’s creation here.

Initially serving only one community with the construction of a single borehole, Amman Imman has built five boreholes in the Azawak plains of Niger, providing a safe and secure water source to five communities, as well as nomads from outlier regions. The five communities benefiting directly from AI’s work are Tangarwashane, Tchinwangari, Kijigari, Ebagueye, and Couloubade. Amman Imman has a vision to expand into more communities and help all 500,000 people in the Azawak. It is only with your help that this will be possible.

One of the most meaningful facets of Amman Imman’s work is that it is literally preserving the rich cultures found in the African communities that it works with. Two cultures dominate AI’s African communities – Tuareg and Wodaabe Fulani. Amongst the roughly 7.3 billion people that walk the earth today, there are estimated to be only about six million Fulani peoples and one million Tuareg peoples. Considering this, AI’s dedication to saving the lives of the over half a million Tuareg and Fulani peoples in the Azawak is truly a necessary commitment.

Tune in on Wednesday, November 25, 2015 to learn more about the Tuareg and Fulani cultures. We’ll share details about specific cultural traditions, fascinating rites of passage, captivating folklore, and more.

Friday, May 22, 2015

PRESS RELEASE: 9th Annual “A Walk for Water” Draws Newly-Named Nigerien Ambassador

For Immediate Release   
Media Contact: Debra Kahn, Debbie@ammanimman.org, 240-418-1143, www.ammanimman.org, photos here.
9th Annual “A Walk for Water” Draws Newly-Named Nigerien Ambassador
~ A Walk for Water Engages Youth as Global Leaders ~

Silver Spring, MD – The new Ambassador of Niger, Her Excellency Professor Hassana Alidou
(l-r) Mr. Rilla, Alphadi, Lucy Billings, Hadesh Walet, Kamel Zennia,
 Her Excellency Ambassador Alidou, Ariane Kirtley, Debra Kahn
marked history by attending a grassroots event with American students and families. “A Walk for Water” on May 16, 2015 was one of Her Excellency’s first public appearances since she established her office the week prior at the Nigerien embassy in Washington DC. Alphadi, famous Nigerien fashion designer known as the “Magician of the Desert”, accompanied Her Excellency. The event raises funds to benefit Niger’s most vulnerable populations. It links students of the global north and the global south, offering a hand of friendship to Muslim populations in danger of falling under the influence of extremists.

Getting ready to Walk for Water!
Attended by about 200 people, “A Walk for Water” was co-sponsored by nonprofit Amman Imman and the John F. Kennedy HS in Silver Spring, Maryland. Amman Imman: Water is Life, based in Silver Spring, hosts Walk for Water events annually in collaboration with the many schools with which it partners. The grassroots organization is one of the only humanitarian groups working in the Azawak Valley, a region the size of Florida that straddles Mali and Niger.  For the past decade, a severe and lengthening drought, extreme poverty, and growing insecurity has continued to erode communities in the Azawak, one of West Africa’s most inaccessible and impoverished regions.

Our special guests enjoy the nomad tent
The 5K Walk events symbolize the long journeys—up to 35 miles daily for some—that many children in the Azawak have had to take to find water for their families. Since 2006, Amman Imman has drilled five sustainable sources of clean water called borehole wells in Niger. The organization also works with villages to lead other essential development activities, such as setting up cereal banks and community gardens, managing vaccination campaigns, distributing mosquito nets, providing school supplies, building community stores, and offering food aid and training in a variety of relevant income-generating skills especially focused on empowering women.

This 9th edition of “A Walk for Water” was framed by an African cultural festival with live music
Tuareg Tea
Africa and hands-on activities. Participants had the unique experience of visiting a nomad’s tent and sipping Tuareg tea. They heard the sound of the tende, a traditional Tuareg drum played by women. Children wrote their names in the ancient alphabet of Tiffinagh and made friendship bracelets for the children of the Azawak. Festival go-ers visited the marketplace where regional artisan’s jewelry and crafts were sold.

Ambassador Alidou emphasized the students’ impact, “For us it is an honor to be with you again celebrating another year of solidarity with the people of Niger. Water is about life. So you can imagine what you give to so many people through the work that Amman Imman does in Niger. Each time that you see youth reaching out to other youth…it is very, very powerful -- we know that peace is going to sink in across the rivers, across the desert, and across the ocean.”

Ariane Kirtley, Amman Imman’s founder and director, in the United States directly from Niger, also
Ariane, Debbie and students
attended the event as the keynote speaker. Ms. Kirtley encouraged the students to continue developing their compassion and leadership because the word needs them: “You are powerful…Not only do you save lives, you also bring peace….Children in the Azawak understand that students in America care about them.  And that’s a huge powerful message in this time when extremism undermines the security of so many nations.”   

Although Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett who was scheduled to attend the event could not be there, his proclamation declaring May 16 “A Walk for Water Day” in Montgomery County was read. “I urge our residents to learn about the suffering caused by water scarcity and the efforts to alleviate that condition,” proclaimed Mr. Leggett.

Musicians Kamel Zennia from Algeria and Hadesh Walet from Mali shared their music.
Playing the tende
Poet/educator Andrew Kutt sang his hit, “May the Water Flow” written for the people of the Azawak. Singer/songwriter Lucy Billings traveled from Tennessee to sing “Carry the Water”, highlighting the plight of women and girls worldwide. Ghanian Michael Kweku Owusu of Drumming Up From Poverty lead a drum circle. Other partners included the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington.

On "A Walk for Water"

Hadesh Walet sings a song
for the Azawak

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

International Humanitarian Inspires Youth to Take Compassionate Action

For Immediate Release: April 22, 2015.   
Contact: Debra Kahn, Amman Imman: Water is Life Associate Director, 240-418-1143,debbie@ammanimman.org International Humanitarian Inspires Youth to Take Compassionate Action

~ Amman Imman’s Founder Ariane Kirtley speaks at John F. Kennedy High School ~

Who: Amman Imman: Water is Life’s Founder and Executive Director Ariane Kirtley is in the Washington, DC area, just back from Niger, the poorest nation on Earth, and also a theater of regional struggle  against the rise of Islamist radicalization.

What: Kirtley will address students and parents from the John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, MD and other Montgomery County schools on the organization’s work in rural Niger, and how they can take a role as global citizens around critical issues like water scarcity and fostering friendships between diverse cultures. She will talk about what students can personally do to make a difference by participating in the the 2015 A Walk for Water, Amman Imman’s signature fundraising and awareness event in the Washington, DC metro area that will be held at John F. Kennedy High School on May 16.

Ariane Kirtley is also available for media interviews and features on such topics as: African development, combatting extremism, climate change, water, Boko Haram, roles of women in the Sahel, women’s entrepreneurship, choosing the humanitarian lifestyle, educating American schoolchildren about other cultures, and leading an international NGO.   

When:             Friday, April 24, 6:00pm

Where:           John F. Kennedy High School
1901 Randolph Road
Silver Spring, MD 20902

Photo Opportunity:
Best Time: 6:15 pm


2015 A Walk for Water is on Saturday, May 16th, 10:00am-2:00pm at John F. Kennedy High School. The event commences with an Opening Ceremony that includes AI’s Founder and Executive Director Ariane Alzhara Kirtley as keynote speaker, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett as special guest speaker, and John F. Kennedy High School Principal Joe L. Rubens as our host. There will be an interactive cultural festival, highlighting the cultures that Amman Imman serves and the issue of water scarcity, that features hands-on activities, food, live music from West Africa, traditional crafts and jewelry for purchase, and live demonstrations for the whole family. During the festival people gather to begin the 5K walk that symbolizes the 35 mile trek children living in the Azawak of West  Africa travel to bring water home to their families.

Funds raised go towards Amman Imman projects that help West African nomadic children and families suffering from water scarcity gain access to sustainable water sources and capacity-building projects focused on health, sanitation, food security, education, women’s empowerment, environmental sustainability and livelihood opportunities.  More information available at www.ammanimman.org/walk


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

International Humanitarian Ariane Kirtley in USA, April - June

Ariane Kirtley, Hero to Thousands, to Visit DC

Beginning on April 10, 2015, well-known international humanitarian Ariane Kirtley will be available in the USA for interviews or feature stories in all media. She arrives in the Washington DC area just back from Niger, the poorest nation on Earth, and also a theater of regional struggle against the rise of Islamist radicalization.

The topics she can cover include: African development, combating extremism, climate change, water, Boko Haram, roles of women in the Sahel, women’s entrepreneurship, choosing the humanitarian lifestyle, educating American schoolchildren about other cultures, and leading an international NGO.

For almost a decade Ariane, mother of two young sons, has worked against great odds, including the threat of terrorism, to save lives among one of the most vulnerable minorities in Africa – a half million Tuareg and Wodaabe nomads who have no water most of the year due to unremitting drought. This is in the Florida-sized Azawak, the most abandoned region of Niger and of the Sahel.

Her work there focuses in large part on empowering women and bringing stability to children. Before Ariane arrived in the Azawak, children walked 20 miles to find water. Now they go to schools and health clinics built near permanent water sources she and her team have created. In America she built a network of more than 135 schools that participate in yearlong outreach programs to Azawak children.

Actress-activist Mia Farrow calls Ariane “a remarkable young woman” for her work with Amman Imman: Water is Life, the American organization Ariane founded and runs in Africa (recently named “Top 500 NGO”). Learn more about Amman Imman's mission and accomplishments on the website.
Click to watch a video showing children thanking Ariane

To meet or skype with Ariane Kirtley in April or May, please write her at ariane@ammanimman.org, or call Debbie Kahn at (240) 418-1143

More about Ariane Kirtley
Hailing from Kentucky and raised in Africa, Ariane received both her B.A. (’01 Anthropology) and Masters (’04 Public Health) from Yale University. Despite a plethora of career opportunities, her life reached a tipping point. Friends in Niger desperately begged her to visit the Azawak, saying people there were dying of thirst. Devastated by the conditions she found, she sought the help of major NGOs – who said they had other priorities. Ariane decided not to turn her back on her new friends in the Azawak; she would dedicate her life to them, and bring them water from unlimited supplies deep underground.

In 2006 she founded Amman Imman to keep her promise. Working far from civilization in suffocating Saharan heat, facing persistent health risks and dangers from regional unrest, she and her team do work typically carried out by governments. Since 2007 they have built 5 deep borehole wells, saved thousands of lives, and brought a fragile stability to an area that could otherwise become prey to extremist rhetoric.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Amman Imman's Charter of Values

We submit this charter as the standard of integrity upon which we do our work. This testament affirms our commitment to the populations we serve, and our pledge as humanitarians dedicated to building a future of hope for our planet.  

Respect and acceptance of the other, and honoring our differences as assets

Empathy, compassion, and solidarity toward those we serve

Humility, selflessness, and service leadership: placing others above self while we work for the good of others rather than personal advancement

Deep respect for human rights, equity, and justice

Teamwork, recognizing that all levels of our organization -- from management and staff to donors, to partners and beneficiaries -- compose a tightly-knit community

Excellence, quality, professionalism, innovation, pragmatism, and adaptability to ascertain positive impact and sustainability

Passion and commitment for our work and the people we serve

Transparency, integrity, morality, accountability and honesty as a guiding force

Perseverance and endurance, despite challenging and sometimes dangerous circumstances

Limiting our influence on the environment and the earth's resources, both in the office and in the field

Wise, careful, and conscientious use of financial resources

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tanamert wooley! Thank you very much!

Please consider making an end-of-year tax-deductible gift to Amman Imman 
Tree planted in 2012 grows in Ebagueye

Here are some examples of how your donations help:

$10 = one tree 

$25 = two mosquito nets for a family 

$50 = school supplies for a child

$100 = craft supplies for a woman  

$250 = gardening tools for a family 

$500 = two goats to start a herd for a woman 

$1000 = one cow to supply milk to a family

Women receiving their goats 

Please send in your funds through our website or mail us a check:

Amman Imman

914 Robin Road, 

Silver Spring, MD 20901

Dear Friends and Devoted Supporters,

As 2014 draws to a close, we wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season, and send you a message from our Azawak communities:

Tanamert wooley!  Thank you very much! 

We could not continue helping the children and families in the Azawak without your support and precious contributions.  You cannot imagine how grateful our Amman Imman team and communities are for your love and compassion. Contributions like yours have helped us enjoy a fulfilling year in the Azawak, where we continue to witness our communities grow and prosper thanks to ongoing projects, and various new activities. 

Filling empty bellies
At the beginning of the year, many of our families cried out for help to feed their children. While their borehole provides them with plentiful water, grain prices continue to skyrocket due to perpetual and ongoing drought. Hunger has become a primary cause of desperation. We helped as we could by providing affordable grain to the poorest. Thanks to the Tangarwashane, Couloubade, and Ebagueye cereal banks, children went to school bellies filled, and eager to use their new school books in their new school room provided by Amman Imman. Profits from the cereal bank are used to purchase additional grain, to counter the cycle of hunger.

Empowering women
With happier and healthier children, women could focus on other activities. For instance, women felt empowered by our various skills training programs, including sewing, management training, and literacy and counting. Many of our most vulnerable women felt much more financially secure thanks to our goat project, the artisan cooperative, and new jobs provided by the boutique, fodder and cereal banks.

Developing communities
Our boreholes continue to provide amazing relief, where children are generally much healthier, and everyone has more time to work, go to school, and enjoy a higher quality of life. We are training several young men from our communities over two years to become professional borehole mechanics. Our goal is to not only help improve the skills of men and women, but also to increase the autonomy of our communities as they become their own experts. 

Protection from malaria
Our mosquito net project was very popular. In Ebagueye alone, parents reported a significant decrease in malaria related illness. Whereas in previous years, the village chief traveled to Abalak almost daily during the rainy season to take children for emergency care to the clinic, this year he only made occasional trips to the clinic, as malaria-related sickness dropped considerably. 

Working towards resiliency
Our communities are extraordinarily grateful for all our projects, including gardening, latrines, mosquito nets, boutiques, grain mills, and more. While there is still a lot of work to be done, our activities bring them one step closer to vibrancy and resiliency, and changes their lives for the better.

Plans for 2015
We are excited to launch the New Year with our new nomadic heath clinic for all our communities, and we hope to build a borehole in a new community before the end of 2015. We want to increase our work with children in the Azawak and students around the world, as we recognize their tremendous potential as the true long-term change makers for the Azawak. We’ll be excited to keep sharing our progress with you throughout next year!

With wishes of love and peace, and extreme gratitude, 

Ariane, the entire Amman Imman team, and our Azawak communities

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Why you Should Donate to Smaller Non-Profits on #GivingTuesday

by Tina Burchette, Volunteer Blog Writer for Amman Imman: Water is Life

With all of the negative things going on in the world as of late, this holiday season is a perfect time to focus on the good. #GivingTuesday comes right on the heels of Thanksgiving and its subsequent consumer-based holidays, and I hope that everyone gives a donation, no matter how small, to an organization that does something great for the world.
I want to give a shout out to smaller non-profits for all of the work that they do. If you were to ask any person on the street to list a few of the non-profits they are aware of, these non-profits probably wouldn’t be on their list. However, we cannot ignore the fact that these organizations do necessary and selfless things for the world, regardless of their size and scope.

The inevitable fact is that no matter how big or how well-known a non-profit may be, it cannot do everything. It cannot save everyone. It may have a hefty and inspiring mission statement, but there are some things that they cannot and will not do. That is why I am choosing to donate money to the small non-profit that I volunteer with as a blog writer, Amman Imman: Water is Life.

When Ariane Kirtley, our founder, was doing research in West Africa, she was made aware
of a devastating situation. There is a region called the Azawak, situated in both Niger and Mali, that is so water-deprived that the inhabitants had to walk up to 30 miles every day just to find water, many times not finding any. Global warming has also taken its toll on the region, making the rainy season shorter than it has ever been before. Not to mention, any water available to the people of the Azawak was severely contaminated. However, there is a significantly-sized aquifer underneath the region that is able to provide a clean and permanent water source to these peoples. Ariane knew that this issue was the responsibility of developmental organizations and the government, so she reached out and asked for help.

These organizations, the ones that any person could list off if they were asked what non-
profits they knew about, were unable to provide assistance. They said the area was too poor and remote, that there was no infrastructure, that it was too dangerous. This is not to say that these organizations should be scorned or that what they can do is any less deserving of our awe and respect. It is simply a matter of fact that no organization can do it all. So Ariane founded Amman Imman, and our focus is specifically in the Azawak region. We have constructed a several boreholes, and we have remained in the area to provide programs that lead to stability in health, education, and food levels. We have built personal relationships with the people we help. The people of the Azawak are receiving the time and dedication of Amman Imman that could not have been provided for them by a bigger non-profit.

Perhaps one of the inspiring parts about Amman Imman is that many of our donors and fundraisers are young children. The education that we provide works both ways: we educate the people of the Azawak in the ways they can sustain themselves, and we educate the more fortunate to become what we call “heroes of compassion.” We are teaching values that we believe will result in a more global society, while also inspiring young people to reach out and help their brothers and sisters who are less fortunate than themselves. Although our non-profit is small, I couldn’t be any prouder to volunteer for them. I know my small part is relief to them, because it allows the more central members to focus on the more imperative tasks in order to achieve our mission.
Annual "A Walk for Water" engages students as
Heroes of Compassion who reach out and help.

So I ask all givers to really reflect upon which organizations they will be donating to on #GivingTuesday, and hopefully for the rest of their lives. We should absolutely support big non-profits that we know make a large difference, but we should also think of the little guys. They take on the tasks that nobody can, and they focus on that task until they can bring it to fruition. It doesn’t matter if they are providing water to poverty-stricken people of Africa, or simply building wheelchairs for those who can’t afford to buy one. Their smaller task is just as important as the larger tasks that are already receiving significant funding, and they need our support. Find a non-profit that aims to do something you can really get behind, and donate. Your donation will go a long way.

To learn more about Amman Imman: Water is Life visit here.

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