Dr. Anele Heiges, Hon. Agnes Ndetei, and Irene Kabot
The Power of One
Born of a casual conversation between friends on the way home from meditation class in early November, 2007, Wells of Love and Hope illustrates the collective “power of one” in action.
When she learned from her friend, Dr. Anele Heiges (President of the International Public Policy Institute), of the desperate situation of the people of drought-stricken Kibwezi, Kenya, Africa, and the tireless efforts of Honorable Agnes Ndetei (Founder of Solace Self Help Group) to bring environmental balance back into the Kibwezi region by planting trees and building wells, Irene Kabot (Peace Magnet Facilitator and Peace Education/Physical Education Teacher at William B. Ward Elementary School) could not sit idly by and do nothing.
Recognizing the opportunity to bring help and hope to the people of Kibwezi through her role as Peace Education teacher at Ward School, Irene founded Wells of Love and Hope and mobilized the school’s students, teachers, staff, administrators, parents and friends. The Ward School Project Peace: Wells of Love and Hope is making a real difference in the lives of the people of Kibwezi and teaching the children of Ward School, and everyone else involved in the project, the reality of “the power of one”…both individually and collectively.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi
Ward School Project Peace
Irene presented the outline of her idea to Ward School Principal, Ken Regan, and he said, “Go for it!” She then presented it to Assistant Principal, John Fogliano, and he said, “I wanted a project for our Student Council this year. Let’s open this up to the 50+ members and see where it goes.”
Within days, Irene met with the members of Ward Student Council and any other 3rd, 4th and 5th graders who thought they would be interested. She told the children, “If this project touches your hearts, let’s pick a way we can participate and help.” That meeting produced a list of 6 areas of service that the children delineated and signed up for and Ward School Project Peace: Wells of Love and Hope was born.
Students enthusiastically adopted the project and began selling bottled water to drive home the point of the need for fresh water in Kibwezi. Other fundraisers included: bake sales, a car wash, a tag sale and generous donations from teachers, family and friends. The students performed a play to raise the awareness of all their schoolmates. The children came back 2 evenings to perform their play for Ward School Parents and the New Rochelle Board of Education. This play has been shown repeatedly on the local district information station.
The 8-, 9- and 10-year-old students stood before the professional men and women of the New Rochelle Rotary Club to share their concern for their African brothers and sisters. The Rotarian were so moved that they promised a $2,000 donation in conjunction with the application of a matching 50% grant from Rotary International. This contribution along with all the Ward School effort will be more than enough to build 2 wells.
As a final effort of the season, students held a special cook-out on June 21. The event featured authentic African dishes. The food was delicious and the people were enthusiastic and generous.
In August, Irene visited Agnes in Kibwezi and saw first-hand what the people and children of Kibwezi are up against. The students of Ward School have continued their fund-raising efforts over the summer and now begin a new school year with projects and plans in the making. See our blog for updates.
Invoke Your “Power of One”
Wells of Love and Hope has grown since its inception and now includes several related projects such as Seedlings for Sustainability and International Pen Pals, furthering its mission to bring help and hope to the people of Kibwezi, Kenya.
“…They [the people of Kibwezi] need help, they need understanding and compassion, they need assistance in lifting themselves up out of conditions that would knock us flat. They are strong, they are loving, they are generous and they are powerful. But they cannot ‘get here from there’ without help. They are stuck!
They don’t want us to do it for them. They want to learn how to do it for themselves. They don’t want charity. They want a chance.
…imagine the benefit of knowing that other people want a better life for them too. They need hope. We are their hope. You are their hope.
But only ‘hope’ in action will make a difference.”
– Irene Kabot