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HOME | MULTIMEDIA / PRESS | press releases | february 4, 2009

Press Release: february 4, 2009

GRASSROOTS HUMANITARIAN PROJECT AMMAN IMMAN PARTNERS WITH SCHOOLS TO BRING WATER TO 25,000 IN WEST AFRICA

NIGER (February 4, 2009) — Poised to build its second borehole well in Niger’s Azawak Valley—a vast region in the middle of the country that is quickly drying up —Amman Imman’s executive director, Ariane Kirtley, and a team of volunteers will travel to Niger to conduct a feasibility study and find an optimal spot to start drilling.

“After seeing the amazing and beautiful impact that bringing clean and sustainable sources of water to the Azawak has had on the health and lives of the people, I am excited and thrilled that we will soon bring life and hope to even more children and adults by constructing our next borehole,” said Kirtley who started Amman Imman, a humanitarian project operating in the most remote region of Niger, after conducting Fulbright research in West Africa in 2005. Amman Imman built its first borehole well in 2007—a soul source of clean water in a largely abandoned area of the world.

After more than a year and a half spent fundraising, the team is ready to help another 25,000 people living in this destitute region by bringing them the life-saving water they need. This water will come from 600 to 3,000 feet below the Earth’s surface through a structure called a borehole well. Called “The Montessori Well of Love,” the infrastructure will be erected in honor of the many Montessori schools around the world that have raised funds for the well.

“I am so grateful to have the opportunity to thank the Montessori schools that have helped us by naming this borehole in their honor,” remarked Kirtley.

Through various events and campaigns such as an annual Walk for Water, which was attended by students in and around the D.C. metro area and raised almost $15,000 for the borehole, the students have become personally invested in helping families in the Azawak—many who are dying of thirst. After hearing Kirtley’s stories of children their own age walking 35 miles roundtrip just to find enough water to sustain their families for one day, students became inspired and willed themselves to help their friends across the world. Thus far, 55 schools have committed themselves to Amman Imman’s cause.

“Children in schools wanted to share their generosity and compassion with children in the Azawak after learning that they didn’t have any water,” said Debra Kahn, Associate Director of the Oneness-Family School in Chevy Chase, Maryland, who began the partnership with Montessori schools. “This is a heart-to-heart global connection between children from vastly different cultures.”

Therefore, part of the journey will include a friendship bracelet exchange, whereby students in the United States make bracelets for the children in the Azawak, and vice versa. While visiting the Azawak, Kahn will make the exchange, bringing the Nigerien children materials to string jewelry for their friends in the United States.

These children will live in Tangarwashane, the village where the organization dug its first borehole, which, unlike open wells, are self-replenishing sources of clean water. Team members will hear, firsthand, from the residents about how the borehole has changed their lives.

Before building the borehole, access to water for those living in Tangarwashane— like those living in the rest of the Azawak Valley —was practically non-existent. This is largely the reason so many children are dying: one in two before they turn five, with half of those deaths attributed to dehydration, alone.

With global climate change shortening the rainy season —from five months less than a decade ago to less than two months today —Amman Imman is the only hope for the Tuareg and Fulani ethnic groups living in the Azawak Valley and one of the few humanitarian organizations that has ventured to this abandoned and long-forgotten place, and the only one currently bringing water to the region.

Amman Imman plans to build many more boreholes in the next few years—the soul source of hope for the 500,000 people living in the Azawak Valley, according to Newsweek reporter Scott Johnson who visited Amman Imman’s first borehole last summer.

“When I first went to the Azawak, I visited camps and villages that had no water. I saw Hell, and people dying,” Johnson wrote. “I then traveled to the Amman Imman borehole of Tangarwashane. There, I saw a Paradise amidst Hell. People had water to drink, eat and bathe…These people worshipped their borehole. It was their God, and they took care of it like they would an Idol.”

For more information about Amman Imman, please visit http://www.waterishope.org. To read about student efforts to help, visit: http://montessori-amman-imman-project.blogspot.com/.

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