Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9


by Dr Jane Goodall

PhD, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, UN Messenger for Peace

photo courtesy of the Jane Goodall Institute

This is an enormously important book. When my good friend Hamid Hossaini asked if I would write a preface for it, I told him it would be impossible – I was already horribly overcommitted. But he persuaded me to at least glance through some of the chapters. And I was hooked because
For the Sake of the Children addresses issues close to my heart: how do we nurture belief in the possibility of a peaceful world in our children, how do we counteract the picture of violence and suffering offered daily by the mass media?

Children are by nature dreamers, and often idealists. Their dreams and ideals are shaped by their families and friends, teachers and the society in which they grow up. Thousands of children dream of a peaceful, loving world, but sooner or later their dreams are shattered by their growing perception of a world of violence and anger; a perception that is nurtured daily by the mass media that consistently dwells on the worst side of human nature. The rapes and murders, the wars and terrorist acts. On TV and in our newspapers these examples of the dark side of human nature consistently outnumber reports of human courage, love and sacrifice. Not surprising that children soon abandon their dreams of peace.

The author of this book argues – and I agree - that it is important to offer children a different view of human nature, and to teach them that peaceful solutions to problems can work and, in the long term, work better than violent ones. A peaceful world is not only desirable but possible, and when children realize this they will be able to keep hope alive, and this will give them the strength to cope with whatever pitfalls they encounter in their lives. And as they strive for a better world, they will make their own contributions towards a more peaceful society.

Unfortunately, it is probably true that we humans have some innate aggressive tendencies. We share some 99% of our genetic make up with chimpanzees, and they too have a dark side to their nature and are capable of acts of violence and extreme brutality. But they also show qualities of compassion and altruism. If we have brought aggressive tendencies with us from the ancient past, then we have inherited loving qualities as well. And it does seem to me, despite the terrible human rights abuses that still persist, that our moral consciousness is evolving – 150 years ago most people in the Southern United States didn’t even think that it was unethical to own slaves. And in my own country, the UK, we no longer send women and children to work long hours (slaves to all intents and purposes) in the coal mines and factories, and we no longer see paupers barefooted in the snow. Here, as everywhere, there are still many social injustices but there are hundreds of people working to create positive change. All over the world there are those striving for justice, for an end to slavery, discrimination, environmental destruction, cruelty to children and animals, and so on. Even in countries ruled by brutal dictatorships there are wonderful people risking their liberty and often their lives as they fight for freedom from oppression.

Of course, it cannot be denied that this world, at the start of the 21st century, is in many ways a dark and frightening one. I travel around the globe 300 days a year and everywhere there is evidence of the dark side of our nature. There is violence, cruelty, selfishness and greed. There are wars and conflicts. Torture. Drugs. And terrible destruction of the environment.

It may even be that there is more discord than ever before in human history – though probably it just seems so because it is so much easier today to know what is going on. Because of radio, TV, and now the internet the average human being who is interested in world affairs knows a great deal more than in past centuries. But although, as mentioned, the media tends to report the dark side of human nature, we cannot deny that there really is a lot wrong in the affairs of men (and women) - everywhere.

Even so, as I have said, I believe that we are gradually moving in the right direction. Violent social unrest often occurs when oppressive regimes have been overthrown, and this may usher in a new and more peaceful era. After all, Western Europe was once as violent and war-torn as Africa and the Middle East today. Yet there is now relative harmony – with the tragic exception of Northern Ireland. Once North America was torn apart by civil war – those 34 states are now united under a star-spangled banner.

Everywhere, today, people dream of peace. In war-torn countries, children, when asked about their dreams for the future, almost always mention, directly or indirectly, peace – a world where there are no more guns and bombs, no more hurting and killing. And only too often their dreams are destroyed by the onslaught of negative images from the media, negative information from parents, friends, teachers.

This book offers ways to counteract this negative and frightening picture. It suggests that unless we truly believe that peace is eventually possible it can never come to pass. That if we sink into apathy, believing that war and violence are inevitable, then indeed it will be so. And here is a book not only pleading for us to adopt a new and more positive attitude, but providing parents and teachers with a marvelous way of introducing such positive thoughts through storytelling. Here you will find many stories with positive messages, stories that introduce a world where peaceful solutions to problems are seen not only as preferred but superior to conflict. And there are also many suggestions as to how these stories can be discussed and analyzed with and among the children to provoke positive thought.

What is particularly exciting to me is that this book provides wonderful material for my own youth education programme, Roots & Shoots. It was because of my involvement in this programme that Kofi Annan selected me as one of his U.N. Messengers of Peace. Roots & Shoots helps young people understand the problems around them and empowers them to take positive action to put things right. It is about changing the world not with guns and bombs and violence, but through knowledge and understanding, hard work, persistence, and love and compassion leading to respect for all life. Members undertake projects that will create a better situation (1) for other human beings, especially in their own community; (2) for animals, including domestic animals; and (3) for the environment that we all share. We stress the importance of learning to live in peace and harmony with our environment as well as with animals and each other, for there can never be peace on earth if we continue to recklessly squander the precious non-renewable resources upon which our lives depend.

Each group chooses projects that relate directly to the problems in their lives, so that they vary greatly depending on the country, culture and religion, of the members. Thus the seeds will grow wherever they are planted, but the direction of growth will differ because of political or religious sensitivities. The program links young people with groups in other areas, other cultures, other religions in an attempt to break down the barriers we erect between such groups. Thus we are truly sowing seeds of global peace.

This book will provide information and practical teaching suggestions for everyone who is interested in fostering hope and positive thinking in our youth. It will help us move towards the goal we all yearn for: a world where children can grow up without fear of guns and bombs, beatings and enslavement and crippling poverty. It is desperately needed, and I salute you, Ann and Dennis, for writing it.

Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE
Founder – the Jane Goodall Institute &
UN Messenger of Peace

Please Note.

Roots & Shoots in action involves positive stories. See

and in Australia see

See wonderful examples of peace-building such as the flying of the Giant Peace Doves on the last Saturday of September in support of the UN International Day of Peace normally held on September 21 each year. The doves are made of old sheets and a bit of chicken wire, and have 12 foot wingspans, and are “flown” on long poles. In Uganda, R&S is introducing hope to young women who have been child soldiers. And there are amazing R&S projects in Israel, Nepal – all over the place.

In 2002 Dr Hamid Hossaini introduced R&S into Lugufu, the big Congolese refugee camp in Tanzania. Relations were strained between the refugees and the Tanzanian villagers (in a desperately poor part of the country) outside the camp. Initially sorry for the refugees, the local people then realized that, thanks to international agencies, the refugees were getting better water supplies and hygienic latrines and deliveries of food and more schools than were the Tanzanian villagers. Seeds of anger had been inadvertently sown, and were growing.

And so we planned to set up R&S groups not only in the camp, but in a big Tanzanian school outside as well, requesting the coordinators (young Tanzanian R&S members), whenever possible, to encourage the Tanzanian and Congolese children to work on projects together. We hoped, in this way, to create better understanding of the problems faced by both communities.

And what a success this has been. When I visited these groups a few months ago several people told me that R&S had done more to help Tanzanian/Congolese relations than any other program. One incident showed how the Tanzanian children had become sensitive to the plight of the refugees. An 8 year old boy showed me an area where he and his group had cut down some vegetation to prepare the ground for a small room where they can share their knowledge about local flora and fauna.

“But it was sad – we destroyed the homes of insects and small creatures”, he said. So they have planted new bushes in another place!

Both groups are keeping hens and growing vegetables. The hens roam the garden, eating the insect pests. No need for poisonous chemicals. Their vegetables and chickens are healthy and flourishing. One group has learned to cook simple meals. They have built a clay oven to keep the food warm. And they serve it to customers – teachers and parents. There is a little dining room with four tables, and the menu on the wall, with prices. With the money they buy more seeds and equipment for the garden. A talented 14 year old has painted a really good chimpanzee on one wall – “we want people to understand that animals matter too, and they need food just like us” the artist told me.

Many of the refugee children dream of the day they can go home to Congo and start Roots & Shoots groups there, for they want to share the values and practical advice they have learned from Tanzanian youth.

Read Once Upon a Time by Dr Hamid Hossaini



return to main page