In 2009, I had the opportunity to visit central Niger, home to Niger's Azawak Valley. While there, I rode Arabian horses. I sat atop donkeys. I slept under the stars. I made dear friends. I sang Joni Mitchell's "Circle Game" around a desert fire with my friend Debbie and various Tuareg men. I built memories. But many of those memories weren't so lovely. I saw hungry men groveling in the sand over cheerios I had dropped. I watched children drink water that looked more like hot chocolate. I saw people descend many meters into the scorched earth, in the search of water. I toured the graves of the underground explorers who had become victims of their search.
It's hard to believe, but since that time, times in the Azawak have gotten tougher. There is even less food and the rainy season continues to abate. Yet the organization with which I traveled to the Azawak -- Amman Imman -- saves as many lives at it can by first bringing water to destitute villages and then by bringing other necessities, like sustainable gardens and livelihood and health programs. Because of Amman Imman, there are now two borehole wells that bring water to approximately 50,000 people and their animals. There are functional schools around the site of the wells, and women have begun to garden. Thousands of trees are now planted at one of these sites. Life is born again, in a region that is falling deeper and deeper victim to climate change and the forces of impoverishment.
So, to me, bringing another borehole well and supplementing the existing wells isn't just another cause. It's my personal wish. If you were thinking of sending me a card or gift this holiday, or even if you weren't, please make a donation that will fund this important and necessary endeavor.