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.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Journey Across the United States with Christina Lange and Amman Imman

Amman Imman and Christina Lange are partnering up for a 9,000 mile cross-country bike trip, during which this seasoned photographer will fundraise throughout her journey.

Christina Lange has always had a love of bicycling, and after meeting fellow enthusiast Marcus Peck during a convention in 2014, they decided to attempt an epic, yet challenging adventure--to bike across the United States.

Christina explains the trip:

We will meet again on the 2nd of July and set off into the wind on the 3rd...Leaving from Bakersfield, we will head first North to Missoula, then East to Boston, South to Washington DC and back West probably via Florida, Texas and Utah. This will be a journey we expect to last 6-8 months.”

Christina brings her photography prowess and Marcus comes with a writing background.  Between the two of them their journey will be well documented -- telling a slow, purposeful story as they each find meaning in the miles they pass by.

The pair have also taken on charities, which they will donate half of the money they fundraise to. We are extremely honored to announce Christina has chosen Amman Imman as one of those charities.

This isn’t the first interest she has shown in AI, either. Christina had the opportunity to meet Michael, our founder Ariane’s father, back in 2009. After learning about AI’s mission, she had wanted to do a photo documentary of the work we were doing and the region; however, she did not have the good fortune of securing a grant. With her new endeavor, Christina once again reached out to us, and we are so excited about her support.

AI will be following along Christina’s journey, and we hope that all you will, too. As the miles, days, and months go by, this long journey will show the world just how much one step, and one person can do.

Please support Christina and Amman Imman by donating here.

UPDATE: Christina and Marcus are in Nevada. Read their latest post!

Follow the adventures of Christina and Marcus on their blog, 
Cycling across the country and back again, 9000 miles, coast to coast to coast

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Join Amman Imman at the Reel Water Film Festival on June 14!

Join Amman Imman on Saturday, June 14th at the historic Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda, Maryland for the 3rd annual Reel Water Film Festival

This nonprofit event will kick off with an "Afternoon Splash," showing short films that have been submitted from all over the world, and take you on a journey exploring the many ways that water shapes our lives. Join in lively discussions and Q&A's with filmmakers, and then visit supporter organization tables (including Amman Imman) in the lobby to learn more about how you can get involved in the conversation. 

In the evening, the festival will host a "Dinner and a Movie" with the award-winning documentary by Patagonia, DamNation. The night will include a delicious taco bar buffet, a cash bar, and a Q&A about the film. Tickets and program information are available on the festival website here.

All proceeds will directly benefit the mission of the Reel Water Film Festival, which is a nonprofit that uses film to start the conversation about the world's water issues. After the festival, at least half of the funds raised will be donated to a rainwater harvesting project in Kabale, Uganda, and to education projects around water sustainability in our local community. 

Learn more at www.reelwaterfilmfest.org.

Friday, May 9, 2014

You won't believe what's happening at A Walk for Water 2014!

It’s almost time…just one day until A Walk for Water 2014!  

I'm so excited!

Saturday, May 10, 10:30 a.m. at the Locust Grove Nature Center, 7777 Democracy Blvd, Bethesda, MD

Online registration available until noon on May 9 ($12/student, $15/adult, $48 group of 4). 

On-site registration opens at 10:15 a.m. on May 10($15/student, $18/adult, $60 group of 4).

The fee is a donation. Everyone will be admitted regardless of ability to pay. Children under six admitted free.

Students can receive up to 4 hours of SSL credit for attending the event.

Please read the Event Day Information and Guidelines for directions and important details. 

Here's a pdf version for convenience.

Part of me wants to keep our plans for A Walk for Water a surprise. On the other hand if I don’t tell you maybe you’ll think, “I already did that walk last year” or “Sounds like nothing special”.  But let me tell you, A Walk for Water 2014 is nothing like you’ve done before, and it's going to be very special! 

I can’t help it — I have to tell you what will be there because I don’t want you to miss it!!

When you arrive, you will receive your “Passport to the Azawak”. You will enter our “Azawak” where you will visit a nomad’s tent. You’ll watch the beautiful practice of making Tuareg tea, and try some, too.   

Your children will make a beaded bracelet for themselves, and a second one for a child in the Azawak at our Friendship Exchange. You can both practice writing in the ancient language of Tifinagh

You and your family can try on traditional clothing, learn how to wrap a Tagelmust (“What’s that?!” you might ask. Come and find out!), and get your photo taken as if you are a nomad family in the Azawak.
When you visit the marketplace you will feast your eyes on beautiful jewelry and leather crafts made by artisans in Amman Imman’s villages. Buy a beautiful hand-dyed scarf for mom for Mother’s Day!

You can try to carry water and get a sense of what it might be like for a child who must haul water everyday. You will learn about water scarcity and climate change through the people that Amman Imman serves, and discover how lives are transformed when water is made abundant and clean.

Have lunch with us! You’ll enjoy traditional homemade African food! We'll also have chips/dips from Cava Grill, mini burritos from Boloco, subs from Subway, healthy snacks from My Organic Market -- all of which you can purchase to support Amman Imman.

We will introduce you to the global and local work of our amazing partners: Oneness-Family School, Dog Meets World, Reel Water Film Festival, Drumming Up from Poverty and the Compost Crew. You'll hear the West African sounds of Kamel Zennia, Hadesh Walet and Michael Kweku Owusu.

There’s no scarcity of fun at A Walk for Water 2014.  We'll have a banquet of activities waiting for you on Saturday morning starting at 10:30 am. You don’t want to miss it! 
Wear your mud boots for the trail!  It’s happening rain or shine under 10 tents at the Locust Grove Nature Center.  See you there!!

Be sure to read the Event Day Information and Guidelines for important information, or download this pdf.  

Yours, for the Azawak,

Friday, May 2, 2014

Annual ‘Walk for Water’ Brings Drought-Stricken Communities in West Africa to Life

For Immediate Release:         
Annual ‘Walk for Water’ Brings Drought-Stricken Communities in West Africa to Life

WASHINGTON, DC, May 1, 2014—For the past decade, a severe and lengthening drought, extreme poverty, and growing insecurity has continued to erode communities in one of West Africa’s most inaccessible and impoverished regions: the Azawak Valley. Although most people in the United States—and around the world—have never heard of the Azawak, a growing group of students and individuals from the Washington, DC area has been gathering annually since 2007 to participate in symbolic ‘Walk for Water’ events that have raised funds and awareness to directly assist families in the Azawak. 

The nonprofit organization Amman Imman: Water is Life, based in Bethesda, Maryland, hosts the Walk for Water events in collaboration with the many schools with which it partners. The small, 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. Amman Imman has drilled five sustainable sources of clean water called borehole wells in Niger, which each provide water for more than 25,000 people and their animals. The Walk events symbolize the long journeys—up to 35 miles for some—that many children in the Azawak have had to take to find water for their families.

The organization also works with villages to lead other essential development activities, such as
Amman Imman empowers women by
establishing women's cooperatives that
help them get access to materials at
lower costs and engage in revenue-generating
activities such as traditional crafts,
sewing and gardening. 
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.

This year’s three-mile Walk for Water will be held on May 10, at the Locust Grove Nature Center at 7777 Democracy Boulevard, in Bethesda, Maryland in Cabin John Park near the Montgomery Mall. The Walk itself will begin at 12:30 pm, and will be preceded by a rally and cultural festival. The cultural festival, which begins at 10:30 am, will feature hands-on activities, demonstrations, and live music that relate to the culture of the Tuareg and Fulani ethnic groups who live in the Azawak Valley. Several Tuaregs from the area will attend the Walk, and food, traditional crafts, jewelry, and other items will be available for purchase. A rally will then follow the festival at 12 pm, where a short presentation about Amman Imman’s work will be given. 

For Amman Imman, the Walk for Water events exemplify the organization’s strong partnerships with students, and in particular, schools in the Washington, DC area. Through Amman Imman’s service-learning component, called ‘Wells of Love,’ students of all ages from more than 135 schools around the world have become a driving force behind the organization’s success. These students have raised considerable funds and awareness through the Walks and other self-initiated events. 

You can pre-register online and create a fundraising page for the Walk, or register the day of the event. 

Participating students will come from schools including: the Oneness-Family School, the Barrie School, the Norwood School, the German School of Washington, DC, the Evergreen Montessori School, and several Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). MCPS students can receive up to four hours of SSL (service learning) credit for attending the event.   

Some of Amman Imman’s partner schools are also hosting their own Walks for Water this year. Those schools are: the Boyd School in Virginia, the Aidan Montessori School in Washington, DC, and the Fudan International School in Shanghai, China.

Debra Kahn, Associate Director
Amman Imman: Water is Life, www.ammanimman.org 
7036 Strathmore Street, #111
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
(240) 418-1143

“A Walk for Water”, Saturday, May 10, 10:30 am, at the Locust Grove Nature Center in Bethesda, MD


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

10 More Days til We Walk for Water!

At our weekly planning meeting
Planning the festival layout during a site visit
Tifinagh help from our Tuareg friends. This says "Amman Imman"
A beautiful creek to explore
What will you discover on A Walk for Water?

Dear Friends of the Azawak,
A Walk for Water 2014 is rapidly approaching, on May 10 just 10 days from today! Our team of volunteer event planners -- Rebecca, Jamie, Andre, Kim, Stephen and myself -- are so excited! We've got a great experience in store for you -- with fun educational activities for the kids, yummy food and refreshments, cultural demonstrations, indigenous crafts to feast your eyes upon, music from West Africa, special guests -- not to mention an adventurous 3 mile walk! 

Our list of "official sponsors" -- those who are participating at the event -- continues to grow: Reel Water Film Festival, Oneness-Family School, Dog Meets World, The Compost Crew, Algerian guitarist Kamel Zennia, Malian singer/songwriter Hadesh Walet and Ghanian percussionist Michael Kweku Owusu. I'm not going to put their links right here. Instead, I'm asking you to go to our registration website, register yourself and your family, and explore these great contributors who are listed in the sponsor section.

Registration fees will be higher on May 10, so please register in advance! Not only will you avoid paying a higher fee, but if you register before the event you have the opportunity help us raise funds. After all -- this is a FUNDRAISER!  

We will provide a global service experience for you and your family. You will learn about the Tuareg and Fulani people Amman Imman serves. We give you the opportunity to contribute towards Amman Imman's projects. Children in the Azawak sometimes have to travel as many as 35 miles in a day searching for water. Amman Imman has made clean and sustainable water accessible for over 100,000 in the region. With your help, we are shaping children's futures with education, health initiatives, women's empowerment programs, and more. It's YOU who are making a difference.  

So please, take a moment and register. We know you are coming to the event -- last year we had around 200 people and raised $7000. But right now, just 11 days, before A Walk for Water we have under 40 people officially registered and we've raised just $3,523 (mostly the gifts of two foundation donors) which doesn't even cover the event costs. It will really, really help us with our planning (and our nerves) if you would register in advance, and send out your fundraising page to help raise funds.   

We have an incentive, but you need to register by tonight at midnight to be eligible! For every $25 raised by April 30 your name will be entered into a drawing to win a Kindle Fire. Your registration fee counts towards the drawing, so that's a little gift from us to you!

You make all the difference in the world.We'll see you on May 10!

Sincerely yours, for the Azawak,

Monday, April 21, 2014

Walk for Water with Amman Imman on May 10!

Dear Friends of the Azawak, 

Amman Imman: Water is Life invites you and your family to the 8th annual A Walk for Water, a global service event on Saturday, May 10th at the Locust Grove Nature Center, just steps from the Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, Maryland. 

A Walk for Water supports Amman Imman's activities to drill deep wells and provide sustainable development for indigenous communities in West Africa.

This is a great family event and a perfect way to teach your children, family and friends about water scarcity, which is a growing global issue. In the Azawak region of Niger and Mali, children walk 35 miles to bring water home to their families. At 
A Walk for Water, students and families will walk 3 miles in solidarity with the children of the Azawak.

Pre-Register Online Todayand help raise funds! For every $25 raised by April 30, your name will be entered into a drawing to win a Kindle Fire (must be present to win). Registration rates will be higher for onsite registration. 

Program Details
A Walk for Water includes an interactive pre-walk festival highlighting the nomadic cultures of the Azawak, aimed at educating students as global citizens with live music from West Africa, hands-on activities for all ages, and cultural demonstrations. Food, refreshments and merchandise will available for purchase.

The event qualifies as SSL hours for MCPS students.

Saturday, May 10th,  10:30 am - 2:30 pm
  • 10:30 am - 12:00 pm Azawak Cultural Festival
  • 12:00 pm Pre-Walk Rally and drawing to win Kindle Fire
  • 12:30 pm  3 mile Walk begins, 1 - 2 hours depending on your pace  

Locust Grove Nature Center: 7777 Democracy Blvd in Bethesda, MD. 

Event Information
For questions additional information: (240) 418-1143debbie@ammanimman.org

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!

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