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.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Exciting news and a request for your help this holiday season!

We are partnering with the Vibrant Village Foundation! Thanks to a Vibrant Village grant of $130,000, Amman Imman is currently in the Azawak constructing a new borehole that will begin providing water for thousands of families in February 2012, before the height of the hottest part of the dry season in Niger. This borehole will provide water for as many as 30,000 people and animals.

We are working with our Azawak communities that already have a borehole to provide food relief!  To meet their immediate needs, we plan to supply their food banks. We'll also be implementing a drip irrigation project to support their long term agricultural and gardening efforts.  Read more details about the new borehole and projects here. 

Another devoted supporter and good friend has pledged $30,000! We are on our way towards alleviating the pressure cause by this year's food crisis in Niger, and providing a sustainable solution within our communities that will last for years to come.   But.....

We still need to raise $40,000 to complete these projects! 
That's where we need your help.
We are asking our supporters to help us raise these funds by the beginning of the yearto see our projects to fruition, and support ongoing follow-up throughout the year.  

Here's what you can do:
1) Make a donation. Large, medium, small - it all adds up to improving lives and bringing water, food, and hope!.
2) Create your own Amman Imman fundraising page and reach out to your community of family and friends. "It takes a village" of people helping to make a difference! 
3) Spread the Word.  On Facebook, Twitter, etc.

 Thank you for being part of our vision to bring water and hope to the Azawak! 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saving lives with a Vibrant Village borehole, food and sustainable gardening


Here's what you can do to help
Goal = $40,000

Dear Friends of the Azawak,
Before anything else, I’d like to wish all of you a wonderful Holiday Season. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and many blessings to you, our dear friends and supporters!

Denis, Fassely, and I arrived safely in Niger a few weeks ago.  We’ve been very active implementing projects that will have a life-changing impact for the Azawak.  Here’s some of what we’ve been working on…

The Vibrant Village Borehole
Inadan women from our VV with logo.001We are happy to announce that we’ve initiated the process to build our next borehole, which will solve the water supply issues for 5,000 to 30,000 people, depending on the time of the year.  We’ve chosen a village and its surrounding communities that harbor thousands of Tuareg and Fulani who currently have no immediate access to water.  For the time being, we’re keeping the community’s name anonymous to protect our security.  I’ll refer to it as the Vibrant Village, in honor of our primary funder, the Vibrant Village Foundation.  I’ll share our progress in the upcoming weeks.

Food activities
We are also fine-tuning the choices for our upcoming activities in Tangarwashane, Kijigari, and Tchinwagari(our past borehole communities).   Their current immediate priority is food.  According to the World Food Program (WFP) Niger is suffering its worst food crisis in over a decade (and the third it's experienced in the past six years). Between 60% to 90% of this year’s crops did not reach harvest - which has been estimated at approximately 500,000 tons of food that will not be available to feed Niger's populations. Many grains and basic food supplies (oil, sugar, etc) are difficult – sometimes impossible -- to find on the market. Those that can be found have tripled in price, and are unaffordable by most rural populations.  We are already witnessing the repercussions of this food crisis.  Many of our families eat only one small meal a day.  Children are the first to suffer from severe malnutrition (including starvation), that may lead to problems long after this crisis has subsided. In fact, the UN has estimated that 330,600 children under age five have or will fall victim to this year's drastic food shortage in Niger.   

To help alleviate the pressure that this year’s food crisis has placed on our villages, we are developing both a short-to-medium term as well as a long-term strategy.  For immediate relief, we plan on helping supply their food banks. As a longer term solution, we will continue supporting agricultural/gardening efforts by introducing a drip irrigation project (based on the premise of using the borehole sustainably to grow food).  We will eventually propose a small ruminant program for the women. However, for the time being, the people must feed themselves before they have the luxury to feed their animals.

On the positive end of things, the drip irrigation project will be less costly than we had anticipated (around $4,000). However, an effective food bank program for the three communities will cost around $20,000, whereas we had budgeted for only $5,000.  We too are falling victim of the soaring grain and food prices.  We are looking into options, such as bringing in cheaper grain from outside the country to lower the cost.

Health and Revenue-Generating Activities
We had planned on conducting health and revenue generating activities along with food based activities.  However, given the communities’ current priorities, and the cost of conducting these activities, we will determine additional projects a few weeks from now.

Positive news from the Field
Despite their current challenges, our communities show ongoing proof of growth and resiliency.  The women of Kijigari continue to cultivate their garden, using both marsh and borehole water.  Thanks to this, they grow squash and zucchini to help supplement their food.

The local government contributed piping and plumbing to bring Kijigari’s borehole water to the village’s health center, one of few such facilities in the remote Azawak.  The health center now has a faucet with running water, and the birthing room has been equipped with a faucet and sink!

Please Join our Holiday Campaign!
We have received some very generous donations for our work this winter.  The Vibrant Village Foundation has given us $130,000, and another devoted supporter and committed friend has pledged $30,000.  We are asking our supporters to help us raise the additional $40,000 by the beginning of the year, to see our projects to fruition, and support ongoing follow-up throughout the year.  Please help!

Here's what you can do:
1) Make a donation.   Large, medium, small - it all adds up to improving lives and bringing water, food, and hope!.
2) Help us fundraise by creating your own fundraising page and reaching out to your community of family and friends. "It takes a village" of people helping to make a difference!
3) Spread the word.   Forward this email; share the links on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Thank you for being a part of our vision to bring water and hope to the Azawak!

Gratefully yours for the Children of the Azawak,


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Borehole and a Bag of Rice for the Holidays: A Ray of Hope for Niger


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Please contribute to Amman Imman's 
activities in Niger this winter.
panel for November update.001 4
Dear Friends of the Azawak,

Denis and I are impatient to return to Niger this month, and be welcomed by our dear friends and the smiling, laughing faces of the children we’ve grown to know and love in our Azawak communities.  It will be refreshing to sip tea and share stories with our friends, eat fresh vegetables that they’ve been able to grow thanks to the borehole water and listen to songs the children have learned since they’ve begun attending the school that has opened now that water has become available.

As many of you may be aware, Niger has been in the news non-stop this year – and as portrayed by the media, the situation is nothing but dire and foreboding for this landlocked country of the Sahel.  Denis and I plan on sharing with you the flip side over the next couple of months – stories of dignity, perseverance, and hope.   In fact, today I will share with you a joyous new headline:

Amman Imman, soon to build a new borehole
for 25,000 people and animals,
thereby offering water and food security
in a time of famine and crisis!

Let’s back up one step, as I recap news from the media about Niger in 2011.  In January, Al Qaeda kidnapped two Frenchmen, who were both killed in a failed rescue attempt.  All spring and summer, headlines focused on refugees fleeing Libya and entering Niger (a large number have fled to the Azawak).  Last month we witnessed the death of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.  Though Gaddafi was a tyrant in the eyes of the world, he was often seen as a benefactor by the Tuaregs of Niger. While the rest of the world looked away, he offered assistance on the ground and jobs inside Libya. With his demise, the aid has dried up and almost everyone lost their jobs, removing not only a source of revenue but also causing an influx of refugees who are traumatized and find an impossibly bleak situation in the Azawak.  To top off such a challenging year, headlines now announce one of the worst droughts since 2005 in Niger, where there has been up to 90% crop loss.  Drought and famine have already begun ravishing the country.   This parade of bad news has contributed to Niger once again being named second to last in the most recent Human Development Index.

Just a few days ago, we spoke with Momine, Amman Imman’s Niger Operations Coordinator.  Echoing media headlines, he lamented: “There is no food.  Millet and rice prices have skyrocketed, if you are lucky enough to find them on the market.  Before, our families used to head to Libya when we were dying of hunger and thirst.  But today, we have nowhere to go.”

Our most recent news of hope could not be better timed.

As many of you know, Amman Imman has food and revenue generating projects lined up for the fall and winter.  We’ve been planning to do our utmost to help as many families and communities as possible survive this famine, as well as meet the extra demands created by the influx of refugees.  Then, just last week, I received a call from the Vibrant Village Foundation announcing that they have pledged $130,000 to help cover a majority of the costs needed to build a new borehole.  With a new borehole, our impact in terms of both water and food security will be multiplied. The Vibrant Village Foundation has offered a huge ray of hope that will help save many as they struggle through this new year of severe food and water shortage.  We will share photos and stories of comforted villagers and dancing children celebrating this news as soon as we can!

We still need to raise $70,000 to cover the remainder of the borehole costs, as well as our food and revenue-generating activities.  Like many of the challenges that Nigeriens face on a daily basis, raising this amount before the end of the year may seem insurmountable.  Yet we know that nothing is insurmountableWith your help, combined with the help of all our friends of the Azawak, we trust that our goal will be reached to offer thousands of rays of hope, gallons of precious life-giving water, and large plates of nutritious food to fill empty bellies in the Azawak this holiday season.

Pleaseoffer your ray of hope for the Azawak, for a borehole, food and jobs.

Very sincerely yours,


P.S. To donate now, please visit www.ammanimman.org/donate 
or send your check to:

Amman Imman: Water is Life
7036 Strathmore Street, Suite 111
Chevy Chase, MD 20815

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

From the pygmies of Africa’s equatorial rainforest, to the nomads of Niger’s Sahara


Please contribute towards our $35,000 goal to provide better access to food, water and revenue among the Tuareg and Fuani populations of the Azawak. 

Homesteads column

Dear Friends of the Azawak,

Denis and I traveled to the Central African Republic for two months this past spring to undertake a needs analysis among the indigenous people (the BaAka pygmies) in the country’s far southwestern corner.  As we prepare to return to Africa within the upcoming month, we have been thinking back on our amazing (and also challenging) experience in the Central African Republic.  I think that in all my travels and experiences, I've never lived among such an intriguing and different kind of people as the BaAka pygmies.  The pygmies are complete masters of their universe -- the equatorial rain forest.  They can spot a bit of dirt on the ground, and know that 20 meters high in the tree next to them, they'll find a beehive.  They know that, next to a certain flower that grows in a tree, they'll be sure to find a pangolin (like an armadillo) for dinner.  They fish in streams with their hands, and still hunt with nets, bows and arrows, and slingshots.  They know the medicinal attributes of each plant and tree, and know where to find pure water in lianas that grow throughout the forest.  They know which caterpillars are poisonous, and which grubs are a treat to eat with a tree nut sauce.  And then, as soon as you remove them from their forest setting, they feel out of place among other Africans in the villages.  There, they are exploited, and often treated as sub-human.  Their rights and dignity are abused, and eventually they often turn toward drugs and alcohol, which leads to even more severe exploitation.  In the village, they become a sad example of human rights neglect and tragedy.

Our experience in the Central African Republic emphasized how crucial our work is in Niger.  Our short time among the pygmies made it even more apparent to us that our development work in Niger is about much more than saving lives by bringing water to 500,000 people dying of thirst -- and more now with the refugees from Libya that have settled in the region.  It's also about fighting for human rights and preserving ancient cultures that are slowly disappearing... it's about preserving our world heritage.  The pygmies, as one of the very last true hunter-gatherers are a world treasure, and an example of how our own first ancestors used to live.  The Tuaregs and the Fulani of Niger -- the populations of the Azawak -- are similarly an ancient nomadic people with dying traditions, all suffering from disempowerment and lack of access to the most basic human rights and resources.  These indigenous minorities face direct threats from others who directly or indirectly exploit, abuse, and endanger both their lives and livelihood.

Please join Denis and me as we travel to Niger in November to provide better access to food, water, and revenue among the Tuareg and Fulani populations of the Azawak.   We have launched our fall campaign to raise $35,000 to fund our desperately needed work, and we ask you to be a part of it by making your contribution today.  To donate, click here.

Sincerely yours, for dignity, life and hope among the Tuareg and Fulani of the Azawak,


p.s.   A new movie, OKA!, filmed in the CAR rainforest with the BaAka, opens in several cities in the  USA this  week. To learn, and to attend one of the openings, visit http://www.okamovie.com/

BaAka Fulani Tuareg women column 2

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Refugees Fleeing Libya Seek Refuge in the Azawak

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 Please contribute towards our $35,000 goal for our work in Niger this winter. Among the activities we hope to implement:
  • setting up better irrigation systems for sustenance agriculture
  • providing tools and seeds to schools and families to help them grow their own food
  • running a vaccination campaign in Tangarwashane, Kijigari and Tchinwagari
 Panel for Sept 2011 update.001 4

Dear Friends of the Azawak,
As the world turns its attention to the starving children of the Horn of Africa, let us not forget the thirsty and hungry children of the Azawak, who chronically have no more than one glass of mud, and one small bowl of rice or millet to drink and eat in a day.  The plight of the Azawak – left unknown to most of the world -- has multiplied since Spring, when tens of thousands of refugees fleeing Libya sought political asylum in its vast plains.  Even Momine, our Program Director in Niger, spent many of the past couple of months housing and personally providing for over 20 of the refugees from Libya.  Both Tangarwashane and Kijigari saw hundreds of refugees settle on their lands – banking on the security of having at least safe drinking water.

Why the Azawak?  Ironically, a large number of these refugees fled the Azawak and migrated to Libya many years ago, seeking opportunity and asylum from thirst and starvation.  As examples, my friends Zeinabou, and her daughter, Takat, abandoned the Azawak in January 2005, after one of Niger’s worst food crises.  Today, many of these migrants that had sought new hope in Libya find themselves once again exiled, this time by warfare.  They are returning “home” – where years of prolonged drought have made conditions perpetually worse rather than better.   Zeinabou and Takat have decided to remain in Libya, preferring to bear the ravages of war rather than famine and thirst in the Azawak.

The refugees have brought with them a  desperate need  for additional food and water supplies, as well as illnesses that the populations of the Azawak are ill prepared to handle.  Just a few months ago, our own village of Tangarwashane lost several of its children (and our friends!) due to a measles outbreak caused by the influx of refugees from Libya.   Our local team quickly brought in a doctor to carry out a vaccination campaign and prevent additional deaths in the village and surroundings.  Nonetheless, other diseases continue to threaten Tangarwashane, and everyone else living in the Azawak.  Hunger and thirst remain an ever-present concern for the refugees and villagers that do not have access to a borehole.

Amman Imman is one of the few organizations tackling this humanitarian emergency in the Azawak by helping to provide a sanctuary to both returning and new inhabitants.  We continue to supply abundant and clean water to thousands of families, thanks to the boreholes of Kijigari, Tangarwashane and Tchinwagari.  We offer basic support to schools in these villages, as well as help the villagers grow their own food.  And now, we are hoping to bring additional basic medical assistance, to help prevent new outbreaks and deaths due to diseases brought by the refugees from Libya.

As these refugees choose to make the Azawak their home, your compassion will help provide them with the security and stability they so desperately need.   Our underlying goal remains to build sustainable water sources – boreholes – in new communities.   We also want to maintain our support in the communities that already have boreholes, by continuing to help in the realms of food security, education, and basic health care. 

We are currently hoping to raise $35,000 to conduct specific activities while Denis, Fassely and I are in Niger this winter.  Among some of the projects we hope to implement include:

  • setting up better irrigation systems for sustenance agriculture
  • providing tools and seeds to the schools and families to help them grow their own food 
  • running a vaccination campaign in Tangarwashane, Kijigari, and Tchinwagari.
Please consider making a donation today to contribute to our $35,000 goal, and help provide the gift of life and hope to the children of the Azawak.

Yours, for the Azawak


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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Aichatou explains why your help is so important for people in the Azawak

Aichatou Bety lives in Niamey, Niger and works as an educator for Catholic Relief Services. A long-time friend of Amman Imman, Aicha was in the United States for a conference through her work at the same time A Walk for Water at Lake Frank was taking place. It was our blessing that she was able to be with us at AWFW and speak at the rally.

Highlights from Aicha's speech:
"Think about something that is really important in your life. Something that today if you miss it, you feel like you are not existing. Water in the Azawak, in the desert, is like this. Providing water to a nomad, is providing everything."

"Water is the basis for development. There is an NGO that built a school last year. They really built a nice school. But until now no one is in the school. Do you know why? Because there is no water. How can you build a school in a nomadic area without water? When the school was being built, the enterprise who got the contract brought water from far away to build the school. But after having the school, you also need to provide water for the community. Because if nomadic people are always traveling to look for water, how can you have people in your school? "

"What you are doing is really responding to the need of people from Azawak. This project really expresses the need. The people expressed their need and you accept this need and you decided to help.... Alot of projects fail because they don't respond to the need of people. I am convinced that you bring the hope. With this water, you are going to bring life, help them develop alot of skills."

"I want to thank all of you. Especially children. The involvement of children is very strong. You know why I say this? Children are the future. By starting now and helping the people of the Azawak, these children will continue to help. And even their children will continue."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dear Friends,
In less than a week, those of us in the Washington DC area will gather together to walk the shady trails around Lake Frank in Derwood, Maryland for "A Walk for Water" - an annual tradition that has inspired students to be leaders for a better future.  We will spend time in nature – families and friends together – and be transported away from our conveniences, off our couches and out from behind our electronic devices – to come together for a greater purpose. 

If you live in the DC metro area,  we hope you will join us! 

Please take a few minutes to register online and create a fundraising page:
  • Click on “Register for this Event”
  • The next page will ask,  “Would you like to register for this event?” Click “Yes register online now”. 
  • From there, you will have the option to register as an individual or as a family. Follow the instructions to complete your registration.

2.    After you register, you will be given the option to start a team, or to join an existing team.  Teams can fundraise together. (this is optional!)

3.    You will also be given the option to create a fundraising page.  Creating a page only takes a few minutes and makes it easy to ask your friends and family to support your Walk.  Please create a fundraising page!  If you don’t have time to create one right away, you can return to do it later.  Just go to this page and click on "Raise Money".

4.    Upon completion of your registration, you will receive a confirmation email from FirstGiving with a link from where you can download an Event Information and Fundraising Kit.  For your convenience, here’s the link(For Windows users, when you download the materials you will see two files.  Please click on the one named "AWFW 2011 Lake Frank Event Info and Fundraising Packet".)  

Whether or not you live in DC, please feel free to share this post on your listservs, with your friends and other networks and invite them to join us on May 14th! Share the link of your fundraising page on Facebook, Twitter and with all your social networks!  Invite everyone to contribute to your page!

We at Amman Imman are counting on YOU! Your participation not only helps make "A Walk for Water" a tradition, but it also supports the ideals of students who believe they can make a better world and, more importantly, provides people in the Azawak with hope that they can make their dreams of a better future a reality.

Yours for a future of hope,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

World Water Day and Amman Imman on Nigerien TV

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The Reception in Kijigari Screen Shot
imgresWatch the Video:
The Reception of Kijigari


For those in the Washington DC area, bring your family to A Walk for Water on May 14! Click here for details

Find out more about

Wells of Love! 

Dear Friends of the Azawak,

Today, on World Water Day, please send a special thought to our friends in the Azawak.  As you well know – even though it’s difficult to fathom -- half of their children die before age 5, often from thirst. Thanks to your help, and the compassion of individuals worldwide, over 75,000 of our friends now have access to clean and sustainable water year-round.

As we think of our Azawak communities on this special day commemorating the very meaning of “water is life”, I want to invite you to view a most significant 5 minute video of the celebration of the Kijigari borehole.  This video, filmed by a Nigerien TV – Tele Sahel -- depicts the government of Niger and the leaders of Kijigari congratulating Amman Imman and students worldwide for the tremendous impact that their efforts have yielded.

In the video, the president of the Kijigari Water Management Committee, Adaman Houseinni, proclaims that the people  of Kijigari  have "a borehole that none other can equal".  He praises the Amman Imman team for saving the lives of men, women and children that were previously suffering from thirst, while at the same time protecting the trees and the environment.  The Nigerien government, represented by the prefect of the Department of Abalak, Commander Alhassan Boubakrin, says that "the little project Amman Imman, without funders other than little school children" is actually a "grand project", and that Amman Imman’s work demonstrates that "you can do great accomplishments with minimal means". Denis Gontero, Amman Imman's Niger Program Director (and my husband), thanks the children who diligently dedicated their time and resources for four years to raise the funds that helped to build the borehole.

On World Water Day, and everyday, please remember your brothers and sisters around the world who lack the most basic and essential of natural resources.   Stay posted for another update soon about our work in Niger, and exciting new developments within Amman Imman.

Very gratefully and sincerely yours for the children of the Azawak,

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Reception of the Montessori Well of Love in Kijigari

We are excited to share with you this video,  filmed last year in the village of Kijigari at the official opening reception of the Montessori Well of Love.   Tele Sahel TV televised the grand occasion during which village leaders, government officials and local authorities commended Amman Imman's work as a "vital accomplishment for the populations" of the Azawak.   Denis Gontero, Amman Imman's Niger program director, attended the ceremony, and accepted an award of recognition on behalf of the entire Amman Imman team, including the young people in our Wells of Love program.   Denis spoke about the contribution of children around the world who selflessly "put aside their money, little by little, for the past three years" and gave their time, raising the funds that made the borehole construction possible.  

The Prefect of Abalak, Mr. Daouda Hamidou, representing the  local government,  declared that "little project" Amman Imman was in actuality a "grand project" culminating in immense and profound implications for the people of the Azawak.  He said Amman Imman,  with the assistance of school children as the funders had "demonstrated that you can do great accomplishments with minimal means".    He congratulated Amman Imman on behalf of the President of Niger.    The local government and the Kijigari community collaborated with Amman Imman to complete the borehole project.

Village leader and President of the Kijigari Water Management Committee,  Mr. Adaman Housseini, proclaimed in his speech that  Kijigari and surrounding communities now will "benefit from a borehole that none other can equal".  He acknowledged Ariane Kirtley, Denis Gontero, and Momine Abdoulaye for  providing water that not only eases thirst and preserves the environment,  but crucially saves both human and animal lives.

Mr. Housseini went on to articulate what has become the  focus and realization of Amman Imman's work in building these Oases of Life: that responsibility does not end when the water begins to flow.  The construction and implementation of a borehole opens the possibility for the social and economic development of a community.  Amman Imman intends to support the communities of the Azawak as life flourishes around the utilization of the boreholes's life-giving water.  

Denis Gontero sent his encouragement to the villagers to work together to ensure that the borehole will benefit not only the children of Kijigari but all the children in the Azawak.  He asserted Amman Imman's pledge to   to make water available to all 500,000 people in the region.   "This borehole, although situated in Kijgari, is for everyone.  This water is for everyone."
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