Students have been Amman Imman’s core supporters since Ariane Kirtley began speaking at schools in September 2006. When she came to the Oneness-Family School in October of that year, she presented Amman Imman to the school’s Peacekeeper club. Peacekeeper students brought the project to the Montessori community, presenting with Ariane at the Montessori Peace Academy conference in November. Some of these same students have remained at the core of the movement as it has spread to 60 schools, within the Montessori community and beyond. One such student is Sophie M-D.
Sophie has continued to listen and absorb the lessons of compassion and action that Amman Imman has brought forth from her. Over the last three years, Sophie has remained a key leader in the student movement as it has spread from school to school. With her family she participates annually in A Walk for Water, canvassing friends and neighbors to financially support her symbolic walk. In 2008, she traveled to Ohio with her fellow middle school students to present Amman Imman at the Hershey Montessori School. She helped manage an Amman Imman table at money-raising school events like the Peacekeepers Holiday Bazaar. As an Amman Imman representative, she presented the project to Oneness-Family School classes.
Sophie presenting Amman Imman at Oneness-Family School, 2008
Activism that springs from true compassion has the power to move an individual to do even more. The cause of the people of the Azawak truly entered Sophie’s heart. In July 2008 she wrote about Amman Imman in her blog:
My school helps a program called Amman Imman. Amman Imman's goal is to bring water to Niger, West Africa. So far in 2007 we were able to raise enough money to build a borehole and help 25,000 people. A borehole is like a well, but it is deeper and is a shaft that brings the water up. In February I was lucky enough to go to The Hershey Farm School in Ohio with the other seventh graders in my class (Sarah Nia, Ashley, Sophie H-S, and Dylan) to present about Amman Imman. Also, on my own, I decided to present to some three to six year-olds at Manor Montessori in Bethesda, MD. I have enjoyed all that I have done for Amman Imman and look forward to the upcoming year to help even more.
A natural champion of what she believes in, Sophie takes action where she can when she sees a need. She is a true example of what we intend to cultivate in the students who participate in the Wells of Love program – future leaders with a caring, philanthropic spirit - who employ their compassion by taking action that can change the world.
It is this vision – our Heroes of Compassion act as spokespeople and advocates for the people of the Azawak – that is at the core of the Wells of Love program. Student leaders gain the tangible experience of taking the stories and photos that Ariane and the Amman Imman team bring back from remote and rural Azawak and share them with fellow students and school communities, and thus enact a web of involvement that spreads from school to school.
Now that Sophie has graduated from Oneness she continues to be an advocate for the people of the Azawak in high school. Sophie recently told me, “For some kids Amman Imman was something they did in elementary school For me it is for my whole life”
At the club fair at her high school, The Madeira School, Sophie set up a table to gather support for a new Amman Imman school club. As a result of her enthusiasm, 13 students signed up to join. The group will focus on fundraising, education and the annual Walk for Water.