Montessori by the Sea welcomes Michael Kirtley, president of the Friendship Caravan

My Welcome at Montessori-by-the-Sea
by Michael Kirtley,
president of the Friendship Caravan

This summer I had the distinct pleasure of accepting an invitation by Montessori-by-the-Sea (MBTS) in the Cayman Islands, to receive a check for more than $4000 on behalf of Amman Imman.

What a joy it was for me to see the fervor and joy that Amman Imman brought to the children of the Caymans! Thanks to the passion of teacher Sarah Genereux, who saw Ariane speak last November in Florida, MBTS has become a model of compassionate caring for the people of the Azawak.

I want to thank everyone at the school for the hospitality they extended to me. In addition to Sarah and her partner James Dimond, who graciously welcomed me into their home, I especially thank the co-directors of MBTS, Kourtni Jackson and Debbie Thompson, and their longtime administrator Jacqueline Ebanks.

The students raised the money through hard work and ingenuity. Not only did they sponsor a read–a–thon, give ribbons for donations and sell hand–made crafts, they persuaded the local Rotary club to match what they raised.

How did Sarah motivate the students? I will let her speak for herself: “I explained the difficulty of attaining water by having the students visualize a beautiful day at Rum Point. Then I got them to imagine the hotel disappearing, the restaurant, the tourists and the ocean. I got the children to imagine that their younger siblings and families were parched with thirst and it was up to them to walk the entire length of Grand Cayman in order to reach a well in the most desperate heat of the Caribbean. Once they were there, I told them to imagine 50,000 other people gathered at the well who also required water for their families. I told them to imagine that once they had finally gotten to the front of the queue, that the poorly dug well had gone dry.

“The children responded immediately. They were shocked that such a thing could be occurring in a world which they had known to be fairly kind.”

Voices of support have risen throughout the Cayman Islands, as evidenced by these comments from a July 3 editorial by Guy Harrison, writer for the Caymanian Compass: “Undoubtedly, their (the kids at MBTS) efforts will save lives… Their efforts are a direct challenge to all Caymanians. Each one of us can and should do more for those who suffer in extreme poverty—particularly the children. If we are a country of moral people, then our love and concern for others must extend beyond our shores.”

Caymanians are responding to the appeal. Doctors, Rotarians, and many others are thinking of ways to rally behind the needs of the children of the Azawak and their families. Thanks to the support of many people, including the kind and generous staff and teachers of Montessori by the Sea, the message of Amman Imman is spreading across the island! From what I understand several groups are making plans for an island-wide Walk For Water. And I am sure Sarah will have all kinds of inventive ideas as she keeps things moving among her students.

The attitude and inventiveness of the people I met during my short trip, beginning with “Miss Sarah” and everyone else at Montessori-by-the-Sea, should serve as a beacon and challenge for educators everywhere who wish to help students understand their humanitarian role in the broader world community.

-- Michael Kirtley, president of The Friendship Caravan

From left to right: Eduardo De Silva,Sarah Genereux, Dylan Bostock, Michael Kirtley, Annabel Brooks and Stuart Bostock. Mr. Bostock and Mr. De Silva are both members of The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, and also parents to children at MBTS. Photo by James Dimond.


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