Stephen Lewis' inspiring presentation at a Housing conference at Western in 2002 moved a group of staff, students, and faculty to mount Western's community response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." --- Margaret Mead.
About the Program
The Western Heads East program is Western's Community Response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa. The goal of the Western Heads East program is to establish disease-fighting probiotic yoghurt programs in in highly underserviced areas of Sub-Saharan Africa with alarmingly high rates of HIV/AIDS infection. WHE's first project began in Tanzania and is expanding to Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Malawi.
At the heart of the program is the empowerment of women, â€œYoghurt Mamasâ€�, to establish community kitchens that make a sustainable difference in African communities economically and physically.
"History will judge us on how we respond to the AIDS emergency in Africa... whether we stood around with watering cans and watched while a whole continent burst into flames...or not." --- Bono
Meet the People
The "yoghurt mamas" are building on the health of their communities and working to end poverty in their lives through the probiotic yoghurt micro operations.
"I am very happy to be a part of this project and I like how the project helps people's health in the community and teaches me many things. It has helped me change and grow." --- Mama Paskwalina, Chair, Tukwamuane Women's Group
The mutual learning and research pursuits of both the African and Canadian partners will help better understand the health benefits of the probiotic yoghurt and replicate the project in other communities.
"Having come out of Africa and having worked there in the fields of health research, empowerment and social justice, it is particularly uplifting for me to see, live through and experience this great North-South cooperation towards alleviation of some of the hardships that face the African woman." --- Dr. Melanie Katsivo, Canadian Steering Committee
Western Heads East is a multi-disciplinary program, and faculty members from all academic programs at Western are invited to engage in research to further the project and knowledge in their respective areas.
Community organizations and government agencies in Africa are committed to supporting the local project, and to the research and evaluation of program outcomes.
The Tecumseh Public School and Clarke Road Secondary School in London, Ontario are twinned with the Buswelu Public School and Mtoni High School in Mwanza, Tanzania.
The students write back and forth and learn a great deal from each other's culture. Funds are raised by the Canadian schools for much needed equipment and supplies in Tanzania.
WHE continues to seek other partnerships between organizations in our communities in this community to community endeavour.