Every effort that you are making with your students is a contribution. Each story that you share with them generates little drops of hope which will eventually become the flow of water. The light of awareness and the warmth of compassion is being lit within each of us as we work together in all ways, both large and small, to make this dream a reality.
As we tell the stories that Ariane shares with us to our students, we not only build a bridge between the children of our country and the children of Niger, but we pass on enriching lessons.
Perhaps you are showing pictures to a group of 6-9 year olds, explaining how there are no roads or trails in the Azawak, yet Ariane's host father traveled 20 miles under the light of the moon just to bring her some meat for her morning's meal. This is a lesson in generosity and hospitality.
Or perhaps you are talking with your Middle School students about permanent water scarcity and the depth of the water table (600 - 1200 feet) in the Azawak, using the story of Ariane's friends who used all their resources to dig a well, but were forced to stop at 300 feet because the walls were in danger of caving in.
Maybe you are dialoguing with your 9-12 year old students about cultural sensitivity. You tell them the story of Ramatou, who was near death when Ariane first arrived, suffering with high fevers, severe vomiting and diarrhea. She could not eat or drink. Ariane offered to drive her eight hours to the nearest hospital, but the family said that western medicine wouldn't help because Ramatou was gripped by evil spirits. If Ariane wanted to save her life, she would have to sing and dance to ward them off. So every evening Ariane sang songs and danced for her. (She also gave her oral rehydration therapy: salt and sugar water.) At the end of the week, the woman was eating and dancing with Ariane. Using this story we can remind students that even if we want to help people in so called developing countries, we always need to remain culturally sensitive, paying attention to how people perceive their own needs before offering assistance of any kind. This includes building wells.
You might enrich the imagination of your 3-6 year olds describing Guerwul, a festival celebrating abundance and beauty that takes place during the three month rainy season when there is water in the marshes. These colorful festivities are similar to beauty pageants, where the most beautiful woman picks her future husband from among the dancing and decorated men.
Every effort, every story, brings our children closer to understanding and brings water closer to the people in the Azawak. As we dig deep into our hearts, as the machinery digs the boorholes deep into the earth, we will uncover little drops of hope, and come a step closer to making water a reality for the people in the Azawak.