Amman Imman, Arr Issudar
There is a saying in the Azawak: "Amman Imman, Arr Issudar". Water is Life, Milk is Hope. Before you can have hope, you first need water.
In some way this blog, uniting Amman Imman and Montessori schools worldwide, is all about hope. The people in the Azawak have put their hope in Ariane. Ariane, working to set up the infrastructure to begin the building of the wells, now relies on all the people she has informed to tell others about the urgent need for water in the Azawak, and to raise funds. As our Montessori team meets weekly on a conference call to discuss ideas on bringing schools together and engaging students, we operate on the hope that not only can we affect the lives of people in the Azawak, but we can connect students around the world in collaborative social action. Receiving little bits of appreciative feedback about the blog, I have the suspicion that more people are being affected than I am told about. As the counter displaying the number of page views on the blog continues to rise daily with regular visits from all over the United States and in several areas around the world, I suspect that for every three stories I hear, there are probably at least six out there that do not reach my ears. You have to revel in this kind of mystery!
An example of how this hope is spreading: Michael Kirtley, president of the Friendship Caravan, travels frequently. After he told people in Morocco about the efforts of our students here and showed them the blog, he wrote to me: "I showed the cards your classes had prepared for Ariane to some people here, and they were very moved. Please let them know that people in Africa have already seen their words of support and appreciate them deeply. I also showed them the blog, and they were quite simply amazed. Thank you for opening this window into the good hearts of American people."
Recently I was talking to a parent of a student in the Upper Elementary class at Oneness-Family School. Sometime at the beginning of December, I had engaged that class in a discussion about water scarcity and poverty around the world, using Ariane's photos of people in the Azawak. The parent told me that during the holidays they were shopping at a bazaar benefiting a charitable organization when her daughter told her, "This doesn't mean that much to me. Next year I want to give money to help the people in the Azawak because I really care about them."
In December I wrote an email to all of the individuals that have shown interest in Amman Imman's project to bring water to the Azawak asking if I could list their school on the blog. I acknowledged that anything they are doing at their school to raise awareness about the Azawak region, whether it is leaving some flyers on a table, students doing research, or raising funds, counts as participation. "Every effort, both large and small, brings us a little closer to our dream of bringing water to the people of the Azawak region. I see the potential of Montessori Schools and their students uniting to build at least one water source in the name of Montessori as a powerful example of the interconnection between learning, compassion and activism."
I referred them to a recent post on this blog called Little Drops of Hope that illustrate small and large ways to participate. Schools are beginning to respond to my suggestion. Marlene Cherry from The Montessori School of Chevy Chase in Washington DC said that I could definitely list her school. Patty Sobelman, head of Pines Montessori in Kingwood, Texas, has begun to tell her families about the project. Now her school is listed. Just today I received a letter from Michelle Daly at Montessori Stepping Stones in Michigan: "Yes! Please list us as a participating school. We have informed staff, parents, and students about Amman Imman and the elementary students have decided to host a hot chocolate fundraiser. The rest of the school is collecting change as well. Thanks for keeping us updated. The blog is wonderful!"
Receiving these messages and hearing these stories inspire me and reinforce my conviction that every little bit counts toward making a difference. We can engage students in this project of hope that will save lives in the Azawak region. We can help Amman Imman be the catalyst for larger humanitarian organizations to go there and improve the quality of life with health aid, education and essential resources.
But before we can make this hope a reality, first there must be water.
all photos courtesy of Ariane Kirtley