We Can Make A Difference

Several weeks ago, I received an email from a young woman who had heard about the Amman Imman project at Mt. Holyoke College. Hannah Doherty has a keen interest in water issues and international development. Upon hearing about the Azawak and Amman Imman's work there, Hannah immediately began to explore the issue. When she found out that young students were helping, she jumped on the opportunity to present the project at her former elementary school and to the high school's Model UN club. Hannah brought her enthusiasm to these students, extending to them the opportunity to be part of making a difference for the people of the Azawak.

special contribution to the blog by Hannah Doherty, sophmore at Mt. Holyoke College

Last fall, a public health symposium was held in my college library. Having toyed with the idea of studying public health in grad school I decided to stop by on my way to the reference room. There, I met Jennifer McGowan, the Assistant Director of Admissions at Yale school of Public Health. When I told her I was an Environmental Studies major concentrating on water resources, she enthusiastically told me about Ariane Kirtley and Amman Imman, suggesting I look into Water is Life.
Hannah Doherty speaks about
Amman Imman to the

Greenwich HS Model UN Club.
(GREENWICH CITIZEN photo /Amy Mortensen)
I was immediately moved by the situation and what Ariane was doing. The water scarcity of the Azawak Valley was worse than any region I had studied. As I looked into the politics of the region I was frustrated how people were being marginalized not only in regards to government aid but in government representation. This is a complex issue that will take many years to resolve, however, as the rainy season gets shorter, the water crisis must be addressed.

As I looked to see how I could get involved, I first spoke with Dennis Hamilton who then put me in touch with Debbie Kahn. Both encouraged me to share Amman Imman’s story with others and as I read the inspiring stories of so many schools’ efforts, I wanted to give that same experience to students from my home town. Through Amman Imman, children are exposed to a crisis that many adults are not even aware of. They are given the chance to make a real change in the lives of thousands; a change which they can watch come to fruition. I decided to contact my beloved fifth grade teacher and the academic advisor of my high school’s Model UN club. Both were receptive and invited me to speak about the difference Amman Imman is making in the Azawak Valley of Niger.

I was excited to share my inspiration with other students and yet I was nervous that I wouldn’t adequately represent Amman Imman. However, I soon realized the story of Ariane and the people of the Azawak spoke for itself. As Debbie Kahn had told me, it didn’t matter that I wasn’t a professional; what did matter was that I wanted to share a passion with others.

At the end of a day full of presentations, I was both exhausted and exhilarated. Through Amman Imman’s work, students saw and were inspired by what an important influence they could have in the lives of other children. I felt a shared appreciation for the water we have, and challenged to learn more and to share more.

I encourage anyone who feels even a slight curiosity to explore this cause further, to take action. Amman Imman is special in that it is not a big organization, and those involved are ready to help you even if you just need to be convinced that you really can make a difference.

-- Hannah Doherty, Mt. Holyoke College
Read the article about Hannah's presentation
in the Greenwich Citizen out of Greenwich, Connecticut:


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