I send you holiday greetings from Niamey, Niger, where Denis, Fassely and I will be celebrating the season in over 100 degree heat with our friends. Denis and I have been busy negotiating with contractors and working with a study bureau to build the Montessori Well of Love borehole in Kijigari. If all goes as planned, we hope to begin drilling in February! I will keep you updated as soon as we have more information.
In this season of giving, I am remembering the children. Amman Imman has always been about giving life to children. Yet it is the children of the Azawak who gave life to Amman Imman. They inspired me and continue to inspire everyone along the way as the breath of our dedication. More than we commonly acknowledge, children are amazingly powerful. The children of the Azawak have now been united with students worldwide that have joined our mission as Heroes of Compassion. All these children are now my main sources of inspiration, keeping me working in love and hope for my communities in the Azawak.
To make your holidays a little warmer, I want to share a few stories from those that inspire me most, the children and breath of Amman Imman....
Yours for the children of the Azawak,
Odin - Our Youngest Hero of Compassion
Eight year old Odin insisted that he wanted to help children and animals in a West African country that suffered due to the lack of water. Cornerspring Montessori teacher Cindy Scappaticci had no clue where he got this idea, but following his lead she searched the internet. She discovered Amman Imman. The story of the people of the Azawak deeply moved Odin, but being shy he did not know how to express his deep feelings. When Odin watched the video, Water Crisis in the Azawak, he had to turn away, "Because it was too sad", he said. His mother encouraged him to share his sensitivity with his classmates. "Your sadness will help you understand your passion," she said.
Odin made a presentation, bringing a tray with 18 clear glasses to his circle of classmates. Everyone drank a glass of water. Next, Odin shared the struggles that the people of the Azawak endure by reading aloud the book Amman Imman - A Story. The story of these beautiful people, living without the dignity of having water to drink, unfolded to the children through the simple and compelling words and photographs.
Teacher Cindy finds the term "Heroes of Compassion" very appropriate, "That's who these children are in their make up," she says. By designating kids as Heroes of Compassion, their caring nature is validated. For Odin, Amman Imman has been a vehicle for his own passion, and a way for him to feel and express his compassion. It is a powerful acknowledgment for a shy eight year old to move people to action. Read the rest of Odin’s story on the Wells of Love blog: A young hero of compassion shares his passion and calls his community to action.
Andrea Manchester (8th grade)
I chose this project because I believe that helping others less fortunate than ourselves is not merely an option, but a necessary course of action. It’s important to give back to the global community, particularly if you are born in a society that supplies you with both basic needs as well as whims. Some people wonder why I’ve chosen to help Amman Imman when there are humanitarian issues so close to home. My answer is simple: people in the Azawak aren’t getting help from anyone else. Specifically, I am addressing the Azawak’s desperate need for water. It’s a simple concept, really. The residents of that area have no water for ten months out the year, so I say let’s give it to them! Saving lives is an amazing thing, and by advocating for AI and helping to fundraise, I am helping to do just that.
My participation in Wells of Love helps me to be a Hero of Compassion by encouraging me to motivate others in working towards a common goal, as well as helping me to realize that achieving the greater good takes more than a single generous soul. It’s helped me to learn that I’ll only reach my goals if I advocate for myself and take initiative. You’d be surprised by how few people can do that.
I learned that I don’t need an incentive to help others. It actually comes kind of naturally. I feel a want, if not an urge, to provide aid for those in need of it. It’s also helped me to realize how insignificant I am as an individual, that I can only do little things to work towards something greater. By dedicating myself to this worthy cause, and working collaboratively towards the boreholes, I set a long-term goal for myself. I encourage you to take this up, too!
Sebastian Ashley (8th grade)
The reason that I chose to work with Amman Imman was because I thought that this project was the most urgent and important. Some of the possible community service options had to do with helping the homeless or old, but this one helps those who are dying, and this project has very few people actually working as a staff or members, so they could use more help. Amman Imman is important because it helps the people of the Azawak’s need for water and also helps their economy.
By participating in Wells of Love I have become a Hero of Compassion. In a small organization like Amman Imman, if you want something done then you can’t just sit around and hope someone else will do it for you. You have to take the initiative and become a leader. I have become more philanthropic because I now see how many people have given up prized possessions and much money for others, so I now see that the least I can do is give up a little spare time.
Read the entire story about Andrea and Sebastian on the Wells of Love blog: Super Heroes of Compassion
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The Heroes of Compassion in these stories are now a part of the breath that keeps Amman Imman alive.