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Small acts change the world!

After Sept. 11, Student Briefing for asked prominent figures to offer young people advice on how to best live their lives.

Today we hear from scientist-primatologist Jane Goodall.

Jane GoodallJane Goodall began her landmark study of chimpanzees in Tanzania in June 1960, under the mentorship of anthropologist and paleontologist Louis Leakey.

Dear Friends,
The world has changed for many of you over the past year. Many of us are ly aware that our lives can be forever altered in an instant. Sometimes -- especially with all the talk of war these days -- it may be hard to feel hope for the future.

One of the significant challenges of my life came 20 years ago, when I discovered that chimpanzees were in danger of extinction. I had spent 20 years studying the chimpanzees of Gombe National Park in Tanzania, helping the world to understand these amazing creatures. Now, we were all facing the possibility of a future without chimpanzees. So many other species in the wild are at risk as well: elephants, orangutans, gorillas, sea mammals, many species of birds.

And, of course, we cannot address conservation issues without first solving the horrible poverty that needlessly afflicts so many people.

Now, as I travel, I get much energy from the great spiritual force I feel all around us. Different peoples have different names for this force: God, Allah, Creator, Great Spirit are a few. I became strongly connected to that force during my time alone in the forest. It is my greatest source of strength.

Every one of us makes a difference every day. I advise you to think locally to start with, rather than globally. Try doing at least one thing every day that makes your world a better place.

Perhaps you can visit someone who's lonely. Or try to smile to everyone you meet.Maybe you can volunteer to walk dogs or play with cats at your local shelter. Remember that small acts can have long-lasting effects.

As I travel around the world, I love to share stories about the amazing people I've met who are making the world better for all living things:

Amber Mary was 5 years old when she came up to me with a small stuffed dog in one hand and a bag with a few pennies in the other. Her mother told me she had been saving her pocket money for weeks after watching a National Geographic special in which 8-year-old Flint, a chimpanzee, died of grief after losing his mother. Amber Mary's older brother had died of leukemia the year before. She k about grief. She asked me to give the dog to one of the orphan chimpanzees at a JGI (Jane Goodall Institute) sanctuary in Africa, so the chimp would be less lonely at night. Even at the age of 5, Amber Mary had turned her personal tragedy into a force for good.

A powerful force is unleashed when young people are informed about our problems and empowered to act.

Waging Peace

In 1991 I started a program called Roots & Shoots. This is a symbolic name. Roots creep under the ground and make a firm foundation. Shoots seem small and weak, but to reach the light they can break open brick walls.

Every R&S group chooses three hands-on projects to improve things for the human community, the animals and the environment around them. There are about 5,000 active groups in 70 countries. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Roots & Shoots groups around the world decided that while others talked of waging war, they would lead a campaign to wage peace. Instead of weapons, we would use love, compassion, respect, tolerance and understanding. We call this campaign our Global Peace Initiative.

Every individual matters, and we have a choice: What sort of impact do we want to make? You can, indeed, change the world once you realize that what you do truly makes a difference.

With love,

United Nations Messenger of Peace

Dr. Goodall hopes even more peace doves will fly in more places around the world including many Caribbean islands for the 2004 International Day of Peace on September 21.

Join in this extraordinary worldwide event.

Click for peace doves instructions.


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