Colleen Johnson, Service Learning Program intern at Amman Imman's Bethesda office, blogs about water for Blog Action Day:
|Children wash at one of the Tangarwashane fountains in the Azawak of Niger, February 2009. Photo by Ariane Kirtley.|
Two months ago, Amman Imman: Water is Life was unknown to me. I had recently graduated from University of Virginia and was working as a waitress in my college town for the summer. Travel plans fell through last minute, leaving me with no plan for the immediate future. As a recent graduate with no relevant working experience, I decided that an internship would be the perfect opportunity and a logical next step. A hurried, no holds barred internship search followed; Amman Imman crossed my path and piqued my interest immediately.
Amman Imman: Water is Life is dedicated to providing water and hope for those who have none. The Azawak region is one of the driest inhabited places on Earth, and climate change has drastically shortened the rainy season, making the situation ever more dire. As with any large-scale community project, building borehole wells comes with its share of opposition, especially from those on the polar ends of such issues as landscape preservation. However, when this concern is placed alongside the fact that 500,000 people are entirely without water for about ten months per year, it becomes a non-issue.
While the water crisis in most low-income countries constitutes lack of sanitation, hygiene and microbe / germ knowledge; inhabitants of the Azawak lack the very resource about which they must be educated. Thirst is but one of the numerous and often-fatal consequences of clean water absence; children regularly miss school because of worms, diarrhea, caring for relatives and constantly traveling in search of water. As such, there is no opportunity for education, nutrition, health, poverty alleviation, disease prevention, anything.
Many Big Players (Spenders) such as World Health Organization and United Nations are aware of this global crisis and consider its eradication to be one of their top priorities. However, money and goals are simply tools; without action they may as well not exist. Of course, these organizations are facilitating the majority of the work being done; but as the problem still exists in its current and extreme magnitude, more needs to be done. The only way to progress is to gain momentum traveling through public consciousness. There are endless problems with the human condition that need addressing and dedication; however, ensuring that lives continue at all and that basic needs are met must come before any other improvements. Change in action cannot happen until a change of mind has first occurred.
The people of the Azawak have a saying, Amman Imman, Arr Issudar, meaning "Water is Life, Milk is Hope." Before hope, there must be life. Water. Three borehole wells have been built since Amman Imman's inception, and consequently 75,000 people and animals have access to clean water. However, the 425,000 who are not as fortunate are asking for our help; in turn, we are asking for yours. Help however you can: volunteer, donate, spread the word; but most of all, think about it. Foster genuine concern, and change is inevitable.