Interview with Jane Goodall
Dr. Jane Goodall, renowned primatologist and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education, and Conservation. Rotary Images/Alyce Henson
Rotary International News sat down with Dr. Jane Goodall, renowned primatologist and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education, and Conservation, at the 2009 RI Convention in Birmingham, England, to talk about the Roots & Shoots program and working with Rotary. Goodall delivered a keynote address during the fourth plenary session.
RI News: Tell us about the Roots & Shoots program of the Jane Goodall Institute.
Goodall: Roots & Shoots is in 111 countries. It involves young people, from preschool through university. We even have groups with senior citizens and with people in prisons and in refugee camps. They choose three projects to make the world a better place. Firstly, for their own human community, and then for communities in other places -- raising funds for tsunami victims, for instance. Secondly, [they choose] a project to help animals, which can be domestic, like volunteering in shelters or raising money for a shelter, or it can be wildlife, such as raising awareness or helping to protect a piece of forest. And thirdly, to protect the environment, or to help the environment. This can be something simple like recycling or collecting trash, or it can be a complex program that runs for several years, such as cleaning a stream, learning about talking to the polluters -- not just pulling trash out of the stream but measuring pollution in the water, learning how to write to legislators, and even peaceful demonstration. And we’ve had some amazing success.
RI News: What’s your approach to projects?
Goodall: If you just support health and you’re not concerned about the environment -- you can inoculate kids against all kinds of diseases, but if they’re then drinking dirty water and have unhygienic toilets -- then you’re wasting your time, aren’t you? We work with women [in projects involving] microcredit, and scholarships to keep girls in school, which means new toilets. Otherwise, they drop out at puberty because it’s unhygienic, and there’s no privacy. I think this holistic view is really important. When we began our TACARE program, which is now involving 24 villages around Gombe, [Tanzania], with outreach to more at the beginning, [they told us], “You must focus. You can’t do health and water and conservation,” but we said that you can’t do just one. There are no other NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] in that part of the world, so we have to find the funds to do it all. And thank goodness we did. It’s now a model. USAID sent 72 of their top field directors to Kigoma to see how we do it.
RI News: What are some ways Rotary and your organization can work together?
Goodall: Our missions are the same: environment, empowering people, better world, peace. I know victims of polio who, for just a small amount of money, their lives would be changed. So we do have a wheelchair project, which is Roots & Shoots [groups] raising money for wheelchairs. If we could extend that to the Rotary youth [programs], and they could help a little bit, we could take that program from Tanzania to other countries where there are so many polio victims crawling about on the floor on hands and knees. It takes so little money. One wheelchair is US$100, locally made. One latrine ranges between $200 and $500, depending on how high up the hillside it is; they’re terribly simple, but that’s keeping girls in school. And as you find all around the world, as women’s education improves, family size tends to drop.
RI News: What’s your message as you travel the world?
Goodall: The main message that we have, for not just the youth but for everyone, is not to forget that every single day you live, you make a difference. You make an impact on the world around you. And, we have a choice. Just think if we got together with Rotary, what a huge difference it could make.