Orphans as agents for change


Transformative experiences can happen at unexpected times, in unexpected ways. This paper tells the story of how a gift of a goat can lead to the transformation of a life. Many organisations globally are engaged in a struggle to overcome poverty and injustice by providing livestock as a means for transformation. The animals in themselves are not enough for the transformed lives; they can be a valuable starting point. In the Uluguru Mountains in Tanzania, a Tanzanian and a Norwegian together took one such initiative in order to support teen-age orphans, one of the most vulnerable groups in the community who were struggling to survive. As practitioners and researchers, the four authors had been taking part in the development of the Mgeta Orphan Education Foundation (MOEF), which had developed through action learning/action research. Selected students received a goat and training, and the opportunity to join and develop a network of orphans throughout the region. In this article, we discuss the benefits and challenges the orphaned youngsters face when joining the foundation. How do they benefit from having the goat and what are the challenges, how do they learn and how do they contribute to fellow farmers in their communities? We claim that many of the students have experienced transformation, and provide examples to give evidence of this claim. However, the students are not the only ones who are transforming; so are we who, as co-researchers, have had the opportunity to play a role in and witness their efforts.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • [1] Ahmad, A. K., Gjøtterud, S., & Krogh, E. (2015). Dialogue conferences and empowerment: transfroming Primary Education in Tanzania through cooperation. Educational Action Research, 23(3), In Press.

  • [2] Ahmad, A. K., Krogh, E., & Gjøtterud, S. (2014). Reconsidering the philosophy of Education for Self-Reliance from an experiential learning perspective in contemporary education in Tanzania. Educational Research for Social Change, 3 (1), 3-19

  • [3] Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1984). The social construction of reality: a treatise in the sociology of knowledge. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

  • [4] Bohm, D. (1988). Postmodern Science and a Postmodern World. In D. R. Griffin (Ed.), The reenchantment of Science. Postmodern Proposals (pp. 57-68). New York: State University of New York Press.

  • [5] Buber, M. (1937). I and Though. Second Edition. With a postscript by the Author (R. G. Smith, Trans. 2004 ed.). London-New York: Continuum.

  • [6] Duveskog, D., & Friis-Hansen, E. (2009). Farmer Field Schools: A platform for Transformative Learning. In J. Mezirow & E. W. Taylor (Eds.), Transformative Learning in Practice. Isights from Community, Workplace, and Higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

  • [7] Eik, L. O., Kifaro, G. C., Kiaango, S. M., Nordhagen, Ø. M., Safari, J., & Mtenga, L. A. (2008). Productivity of goats and their contribution to household food security in high potential areas of Eas Africa: A case of Mgeta, Tanzania. Aricab Jourbal of Food Agriculture and Development, 8(3), 278-290.

  • [8] Fals Borda, O. (2001). Participatory (Action) Research in Social Theory: Origins and Challenges. In P. Reason & H. Bradbury (Eds.), Handbook of Action Research. Participative Inquiry & Practice (pp. 27-37). London: SAGE.

  • [9] Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.

  • [10] Gjøtterud, S., & Krogh, E. (2012). Action research as an approach to professional and organizational development in teacher education. Action Researcher in Education(3), 66-83.

  • [11] Heron, J., & Reason, P. (2008). Extending epistemology within a Co-operative Inquiry. In P. Reason & H. Bradbury (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Action Research. Participative Inquiry and Practice. Second Edition (pp. 366-380). London: SAGE.

  • [12] Illeris, K. (2014). Transformative learning and identity. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

  • [13] Kemmis, S., & McTaggart, R. (2005). Particiatory Action Research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research 3rd Edition (Vol. 3): Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.

  • [14] Krogh, E., O., E. L., & Kifaro, G. C. (2007). Keeping Dairy Goats in Mgeta: Improvement of Livelihoods. Paper presented at the Second Annual PANTIL Research Workshop, Morogoro, Tanzania.

  • [15] Lassalle, T., & Mattee, A. (1996). Diverse and Linked - the Role of Farmers’ Organizations in Sustainable Rural Development In A. Budelman (Ed.), Agricultural R and D at the Crossroads: Merging Systems Research and Social Actor Approaches (pp. 203-211). Amsterdam: Royal Tropical Institute.

  • [16] Lassalle, T., Mattee, A., & Forster, P. G. (1995). Towards sustainable rural development using the participatory approach: the case of Mgeta farmers, Morogoro rural district. In P. G. Forster & S. Maghimbi (Eds.), The Tanzanian peasantry: further studies (pp. 170-197).

  • [17] Lassalle, T., Mattee, A., & Noy, F. (2003). Rural Tanzania. Struggeling between tradition and modernity: UMADEP, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania.

  • [18] Levinas, E. (1991). Otherwise than being, or Beyond essence. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  • [19] Malcolm, C., Gopalb, N., Keanec, M., & Kyle, W. C. (2009). Transformative Action Research: Issues and Dilemmas in working with two rural south african communities. In K. Setat, R. Vithal, C. Malcolm & R. Dhunpath (Eds.), Researching possibilities in Mathematics, Science and Thechnology Education. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

  • [20] Revans, R. (1998). ABC of action learning. London: Lemos & Crane.

  • [21] Swantz, M. L. (2008). Participatory Action Research as Practice. In P. Reason & H. Bradbury (Eds.), The Sage Handbook og Action Research. Participative Inquiry and Practice. Second Edition. London: Sage.

  • [22] Tong, T. (2009). Improving Livelihoods of Orphans in Mgeta, Tanzania. People’s Perceptions of a Dairy Goat Intervention in Nyandira and Ndugutu Village. (Masters), Norwegian University of Life Sceinces UMB) and University of British Columbia (UBC).

  • [23] Walton, J. (2014). What can the ‘transpersonal’ contribute to transformative research? International Journal for Transformative Research. De Greuter, 1(1), 26-44.

  • [24] Whitehead, J., & McNiff, J. (2006). Action research: living theory. London: SAGE.


Journal + Issues