“Today, our children are bombarded with problems in the world. Amman Imman Wells of Love provides an opportunity for children to reach out to children who live far away and to make an incredible difference in their lives. As we begin to see through the eyes of another, we realize our common humanity and interconnectedness. Children see that although the people of the Azawak live far away, they hope and dream just as they do.”
When Suzanne Stork first heard about Amman Imman’s work with Montessori students, it touched her heart. “This is a project that inspires children to use their talents and creativity by empowering them to make a difference,” she says. While working with Ariane’s photos of children in the Azawak in preparation for a presentation to young children at Aidan Montessori, the school where she works, Suzanne was deeply moved. “Each photo evokes a personal connection, a feeling of oneness and commonality. These children have the same needs and feelings as my children. Their eyes and smiles reminded me of my own daughters,” says Suzanne.Ariane with Suzanne and daughter Sarah
It was this sentiment that inspired Suzanne to bring the Friendship Exchange to the children at Aidan Montessori. “This was an opportunity for children at Aidan to directly reach out to and connect with children in the Azawak, who they’ve been helping with their water problem." The Friendship Exchange not only shared gifts of beautiful beaded bracelets, but also shared photos and special messages between the kids of two vastly different cultures. “This took the children beyond charitable giving, and into a true heart-to-heart exchange,” says Suzanne. The children in the Azawak experienced the same heart-to-heart connection, becoming aware of children across the world in America who are essentially just like them.
In addition to coordinating the Wells of Love project at Aidan Montessori, Suzanne has taken an active volunteer role in the Amman Imman organization, helping to organize A Walk For Water and other activities. In fact, Suzanne’s entire family has been inspired. Her children, Hannah and Sarah, wanted to help, and so they organized an Amman Imman Benefit Carnival in a park near their home. They invited some high school students who made friendship bracelets and Hannah used her artistic skills for face painting.Hannah painted beautiful designs for the children attending the Carnival.
Virginia high school students make friendship bracelets at the Amman Imman Carnival.
Ariane Kirtley, Amman Imman’s founder and director, her husband Denis Gontero, Niger Program Coordinator, and their small son Fassely, were in town to attend as well. Together with Wells of Love program director Debra Kahn, Ariane used small puppets to tell the story of the people of the Azawak, while Denis played the balafone.Denis Gontero with son, Fassely.