LOCAL MONTESSORI STUDENTS “WALK FOR WATER” TO RAISE MONEY AND AWARENESS FOR GRASSROOTS WELL-DIGGING PROJECT IN NIGER, WEST AFRICA
DERWOOD, MD (May 17) —More than 170 students and parents from local Montessori schools will walk around the perimeter of Rock Creek Park’s Lake Frank, in hopes of raising money and awareness for a program which seeks to lessen the marathon journey—which can be a stifling 35 miles roundtrip—that children in the Azawak region of Niger must face each time they and their families need a cup of water to drink.
Sponsored by Honest Tea, My Organic Market and Signs By Tomorrow, the second annual “A Walk for Water” will be held on Saturday, May 17, starting at 10 a.m. Although the walk will be only a fraction of the distance that children in Niger’s desert must journey for water, to the students, who have been learning about the children of the Azawak in their classes, the event will symbolize their solidarity with the Nigerien children.
Each participant will raise funds to benefit Amman Imman, a program which digs borehole wells—reaching depths as far as 3,000 feet below the Earth’s surface—for the people living in the Azawak. Sponsored in part by money raised through the first annual Walk for Water one year ago, Amman Imman built its first well last summer. The well provides water for 25,000 people and their animals. This year’s walk—kicked off in the company of a native from the outskirts of the Azawak—will support Amman Imman’s second well.
“The focus of involving students in “A Walk for Water” is to bring them together in the spirit of collaboration to make a positive change in the world,” said Debra Kahn, associate director of the Oneness Family School, in Chevy Chase, Md. and organizer of the walk. “The Amman Imman project appeals to their natural desire to help humanity and to reach out to children who are just like them, yet have a lot less.”
Extreme poverty coupled with a warming climate has made life in the Azawak increasingly difficult. Currently, the majority of the 500,000 people living in the Azawak have no water for nine months out of the year due to a lengthening draught. During the three months that they do have water, it is brackish, brown and thick with mud, dirtied by the people and animals which bathe in the marshes. With no schools, health centers or roads nearby, the Azawak is largely abandoned by the outside world.
Ariane Kirtley, founder and director of Amman Imman, hopes that by building more wells, Amman Imman will act as an impetus to change all of this. “Until there is a permanent and sustainable flow of water in the region, no organization will come to the Azawak,” she said. “I hope that our work will serve as a catalyst for humanitarian organizations to bring much-needed developmental aid, such as food aid, health care, education and gender equity to the region.”
Participating schools include: The Oneness-Family School, Chevy Chase, Md.; The Barrie School, Silver Spring, Md.; Henson Valley Montessori School, Upper Marlboro, Md.; Aidan Montessori, Washington, D.C.; Boyd School, from multiple locations in Virginia.
Program Amman Imman is a Washington, D.C.-based program, working in partnership with the American non-profit The Friendship Caravan. For more information on Amman Imman’s collaboration with local schools, visit: http://montessori-amman-imman-project.blogspot.com/