Goats are an integral part of an innovative solution to provide children in Tanzania with a better education.
Peter Larlham, a professor of Theatre, Television and Film, leads the Goats for Kids program. With help from SDSU students and faculty, Larlham works to ensure primary school students in Tanzania receive full days of schooling.
In June 2011, Larlham, along with a team of other SDSU faculty and students, traveled to Mnyakongo Primary School to start a new program within the Mnyakongo School Project.
A need for change
Students in Mnyakongo often walk long distances from home to school. That, coupled with the lack of refrigeration at schools or other amenities to preserve food, make it impractical for children to bring food from their homes. Their school days are unavoidably cut short because they must return home to eat.
Goats for Kids aims to solve this problem by establishing a sustainable lunch program, first at Mnyakongo, followed by other schools in the region. Using goat milk, students are provided with a nutritious meal of porridge and milk.
“The (Mnyakongo) head teacher initially suggested the goats and the milk with porridge idea," Larlham said. "And I am pleased it came from them for now it has more chance of success."
More about the program
To provide fresh milk on a consistent basis, a herd of milk goats will be kept on school grounds. The cost of each milk goat is approximately $80. The group purchased the herd of goats, recruited parents to contribute maize on a regular basis and started construction on a goat house. When the Goats for Kids team left Tanzania in June 2011, they had achieved their goal of establishing a lunch program at their first school.
In June, a group of students and faculty will travel to Mnyakongo to assess the success of their existing projects, and prepare a plot of land to grow maize eliminate the reliance of donations from parents.
The trip to Mnyakongo is a service-learning study abroad trip through the College of Extended Studies. Students can learn more about the trip and apply here.
The program is also fundraising for a rainwater collection system to nourish crops throughout the year. Their goal is that the Goats for Kids program at the Mnyakongo School will be fully sustainable without outside funding by 2013.
Funding will also help expand the effort to other schools in the region. So far, they have purchased a single goat and modest goat house at one additional school in the village of Songambele where they hope to increase the herd and establish a complete program.
The accomplishments of the program thus far have been the direct result of SDSU’s support. Goats For Kids is sponsored by Phi Kappa Phi, the University Honors Program, Mortar Board, Scholars Without Borders and many individual student and faculty donors.
To get involved or make a donation, contact Peter Larlham at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Kongwa Connected.
How it began
In 2008, a group of six former Mnyakongo Primary School pupils, including Larlham, traveled to Tanzania for the school’s 60th anniversary reunion in the small town of Kongwa. When they were pupils, the school was called “Kongwa School” and served European children while the region was under colonial rule. The former students who were boarders at the school in the late '40s and '50s are now scattered, living in Great Britain, the United States and Australia.
Upon arriving some fifty years after they left, the group was welcomed by the students, who sang and danced for them. The group felt instantly connected to their days in school there and were surprised to see how much remained the same.
“We were all breathless and uplifted by the events of the day. We did not want the feeling to end,” said Larlham of their first day back in Kongwa. “It was at this point that we all made a pact to assist the education of the children in whatever way we could. All contributed some money and a local carpentry shop was commissioned to build 50 new desks for the children.”
Since then, the project has made incredible progress, supplying the school with many of the things that are taken for granted in the United State. A new library, desks, mosquito nets and various school supplies are just a few of the things made possible by the organization and their donors. They even made arrangements for the school to be supplied with electricity.
Find out more about Peter Larlham's efforts in Tanzania.