In May, 2008, students in Maryland (read the story and see pictures here) and students in Ohio each sponsored A Walk For Water, altogether raising close to $20,000. These much needed funds will go toward Amman Imman's next borehole, bringing another source of sustainable water to the Azawak.Our adolescent students initiated the idea of a whole-school sponsored walk. They walked ten miles, while our Upper Elementary students walked six miles and the Early Elementary walked three miles. Some early elementary children took turns hauling a large container of drinking water which was as much symbolic as it was necessary to hydrate at the end of their walk. The primary students walked the perimeter of the school and collected coins in a large water bottle in our foyer while a smaller group spontaneously began a secondary collection in their classroom. The Young Child Community (14 through 30 months of age) undertook a long walk across our eleven acres to the pond where they celebrated with a drink of fresh water upon successfully arriving there!
Paula Leigh-Doyle, head of school at Hershey Montessori in Huntsburg, Ohio describes A Walk For Water and Hershey Montessori’s community response to the Montessori Wells of Love initiative, after students in Maryland presented Amman Imman: Water is Life to the Hershey students (read more in Pass it on, March 2008):
The whole school community raised a total of $6,351.
I found that your student’s presentation made quite an impression on our children as they were still contemplating solutions for a long time after the initial presentation. The children’s empathy was further realized as they shared reflections about their physical experience, and discovered that it was just a small part of the work of the children of the Azawak during the driest season.
One six year old explained to his parents that he needs to design a system of roads to better transport the diesel and materials for digging the boreholes. He had noticed a diesel can in one of your slides! Another seven year old drew plans for a robot that could dig the wells without the need for expensive equipment! Two weeks ago, a five year old begged his dad for a big box. When his dad finally responded “why do you need this box?” he replied that he was going to pack up bottles of water to send to Niger and that they would need the box to return the empty bottles so that he could refill them and send more! This father had a transformative moment discovering this depth of care within his son’s spirit. 5 year old Evan adds coins collected in his pencil case at home >>
I was personally amazed by the success of the funds raised by the children and staff and their determination to accomplish a mission through the successful coordination of 240 students, parent volunteers and staff. Having two separated campuses serving separate ages, has motivated us to work more intentionally toward developing a “whole school Hershey Montessori community”. Coming together to work toward a common goal, in service to others, was a wonderful way to experience the power of individuals when they can collaborate in a united spirit as a “whole” community.
At the end of the year, the whole-school met to reflect on the year and to plan next year’s work. The staff unanimously proposed that we continue this relationship to Amman Imman and that we can continue to integrate water quality issues into our Montessori work next year. Faculty suggested that perhaps the adolescents could take up the work from your students and continue on the road to other schools and thus continue to tell the story. Thus this relay of information can continue on its odyssey by Montessori children and extend it beyond the International Montessori web that you began.
A Walk for Water, 2009
is scheduled for the weekend of May 16th
in Washington DC and in New Hampshire.
Stay tuned for details as plans take shape.