Million-dollar gift to Western Heads East enriches lives of thousands in Africa
DECEMBER 19, 2011 - Thanks to a generous $1.06 million gift, The University of Western Ontario will expand its
innovative, community-driven Western Heads East program that provides disease-fighting probiotic yogurt to people living with
HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Western Heads East, which began in 2003 by a group of Western students, faculty and staff, is based on the goal
of teaching and empowering East African mothers - affectionately called "Yogurt Mamas" - to produce potentially
life-saving probiotic yogurt.
The Yogurt Mamas will see an immediate upgrade to four existing yogurt kitchens in Tanzania and 16 new kitchens
throughout East Africa. This translates into increasing capacity to feed 1,100 people each day living with HIV/AIDS over the
next 10 years.
Working with a probiotic bacterial strain donated by Lawson Research scientist and Western professor
Dr. Gregor Reid and Chr. Hansen (Denmark) in a yogurt formulated by Dr. Sharareh Hekmat from Brescia University
College, the Western Heads East kitchens' product helps alleviate infections related to HIV/AIDS, and
provides nourishment to many adults and children.
Western professor Marianne Larsen, a Western Heads East chair, made the generous donation knowing Western Heads East provides a great
way for faculty, staff and students to become active global citizens.
"I have been completely inspired by Western Heads East," says Larsen. "It's incredible what the Yogurt Mamas have accomplished
in their kitchens and the tremendous impact the production of yogurt has had on their lives, and the lives of their families and people,
young and old, living with HIV/AIDS."
Larsen established the Johansen Larsen Foundation after receiving an inheritance from a family friend in 2007.
"I am still overwhelmed by the generosity of Ms. Larsen and by the thought of the many lives that will be brilliantly
affected by this kindness," says Bob Gough, Director, Western Heads East. "The impact of the donation will be truly phenomenal. It will
build significant health and nutrition awareness in the community and bring sustainable economic development to the area."
Ashley Conyngham, Community Relations Specialist,
519-661-2111, ext. 85467
"Reproduced with permission - The University of Western Ontario"
The University of Western Ontario