Oneness-Family School: These Are Our Friends

The ability to care shines out from the nature of children. When you express your care for something, children empathize, and reach out to share those feelings. When Ariane came to Oneness-Family School in October, 2006, she expressed her deep caring for the families she had lived amongst in the Azawak: her father, her sister, her children. We resonated with her feelings, and because she became our friend, the people she cared about became people we cared about, too.

This past week Oneness-Family School students presented the Amman Imman Project three times. On Tuesday, three 7th graders spoke at the Barrie School in Silver Spring, Maryland; Wednesday, four Peacekeeper students presented Amman Imman to the Oneness-Family School community; Thursday, the 7th graders and I traveled an hour away to Frederick, Maryland to the Monocacy Valley Montessori Public Charter School.

For each presentation, I began with an introduction, explaining how Ariane came to the Oneness-Family School and became our friend. Then the students explained the urgency of the need in the Azawak for water, how young children travel up to 30 miles per day in 125 degree temperatures to find a little water, how death and disease ruled their lives due to this lack of adequate water. They lovingly told stories about their friends in the Azawak, reminding their audience to keep in mind their suffering, even while seeing their beautiful spirit reflected in Ariane’s pictures. Through their words, our students demonstrated their deep caring, and illustrated Amman Imman’s plan to help these children. I concluded the presentation with how other schools and students have joined us, and told about recent progress of the project in the Azawak, including the functional completion of the first deep well and how this access to water has already begun to improve the lives of the local people.The deep caring flowing from Ariane through our students, the compassion inherent in the project, and the viable solution that Amman Imman presents to save and improve lives, moved each of our audiences. Students wanted to help and collaborate with us to bring water to the people in the Azawak.

At the Barrie School, a girl spoke with me about engaging in Amman Imman’s work as part of the service aspect of her Bat Mitzvah commitment. Another student, Maddie Thompson, left a comment on this blog:
I think this is a great idea and I will give lots of time into this! I have been doing things like collecting money for different charities. I have always wanted to participate in something much bigger!!
It was wonderful to hear the possibilities the students envisioned to connect their own lives to a greater purpose.

At Oneness-Family School, Luisa, one of our first graders, has been expressing an interest in helping since Ariane first talked to her class back in October. She and her mom are thinking about ways to fundraise. Eleanore, a student at Somerset Elementary who attended the presentation with some other girls from her Brownie troop, wants to organize her troop to collect coins in a jar, like the girl scouts in the Ascension School in Ohio.

At Monocacy Valley Montessori Public Charter School, the question and answer session lasted longer than the presentation itself. Students displayed their critical and deep thinking skills, exploring the various issues surrounding the plight of the people in the Azawak. Many expressed a keen interest in helping. Anna, a student in the Upper Elementary Class, wants to fundraise and present the project in other public and private schools. Alex, another Upper Elementary student, wrote an email to Ariane directly, expressing his desire to help, and she responded:

Dear Alex, Thank you for your message! I am thrilled to know that you want to help us save lives of children your age in Niger. I will be leaving for Africa in a few days, and so I'd like to put you in touch with Debbie Kahn and Maureen Keeling, two fabulous teachers working with students to help the people in Niger. Their students are already doing a lot, and they need help! You could do a lot together. Plus, if you have ideas of things to do on your own or with fellow students to raise awareness and money, and if you want to work to get your school to become a member of the "Montessori Wells of Love", that would be wonderful! Please be in touch with Maureen and Debbie, and thank you once again for your desire to help!
Sincerely yours,

I feel that one of the most wonderful aspects of this project is that students have a rare opportunity to receive direct feedback, as illustrated above. This is because Amman Imman, while being large in scope and vision, is a personal undertaking initiated by someone who, despite challenges, cares enough to persevere. Ariane intends to tell her children in the Azawak that children around the world care about them. As our students present Amman Imman’s mission to other students, they learn to be caring and compassionate leaders while having a direct hand in changing the world for their friends, their brothers and sisters in the Azawak region of Niger.


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