By Godless Poutine
Blogger at My Secret Atheist Blog
The Situation in Uganda
According to the the United Nations World Food Programme, “Uganda was ranked 161 out of 187 countries on the 2011 UNDP Human Development Index, with half the population living below the international poverty line.”
Uganda is also home to the notorious Kill the Gays bill and, according to the BBC, the most dangerous places to live if you are gay. It’s a place where magazines can issue death sentences if you are outed as homosexual that are actually carried out. Much of it is the result of a quickly growing fundamentalist Christian presence.
But there is at least one beacon of knowledge and hope in this darkness in the form of a most extraordinary school.
The Kasese Humanist Primary School
This was just one year after he founded the Kasese United Humanist Association. Since its inception the school has already made an enormous positive impact on students, parents and the community.
KHPS is a secular school offering Nursery and Primary education in the communities around Kasese Municipality.The education offered is free from dogmas and indoctrinations. Kasese Humanist Primary School is offering both Nursery and Primary Education with classes Nursery Lower, Middle, Top Nursery and Primary One – Primary Seven Class.*
The school is the first of its kind in the district and in Uganda to be set up based on humanist values and ethics, offering basic subjects as stipulated by the Uganda Primary School Curriculum and in addition Humanism lessons are conducted. In all subjects taught at school, emphasis is put on the application of a scientific approach and critical thinking. The school encourages pupils to be rational, innovative, creative, skilled, compassionate and tolerant.*
I found the school back in May. I was planning a series of question-answer sessions with Christian missionaries in Africa where I would contrast what motivates the average Christian missionary or charity worker versus their non-religious counterparts.
The series never materialized, but I did have the pleasure to be of some help to the school over the past few months.
I had no money of my own to donate. So using my little blog I profiled both Bwambale Robert and Daniel Loving, an American volunteer that worked at the school for three months this past summer. I provided as much information about the school and the situation of the students as I could. In Daniel’s profile I included some of his comments on how many in the school are chronically underfed:
“I would say nearly everyone at the school both administration and students is suffering from some level malnourishment. So sometimes a few times a day I go and get extra food for the students. It makes them more placid and easier to teach. If there brains are working properly I do not have to repeat lessons either.”
“There is more starch here than you can eat. They need B12 vitamin (e.g. meat or eggs). Three eggs will run you just around 20 cents American here.”
Daniel’s words stuck with me and back in July I decided I wanted to try to help the school in a more substantial way. At first I suggested sending eggs to the school, but Bwambale had a much better idea.
On July 10th I announced the plan to the world. Three days later Bwambale sent me a full budget along with sample picture and I posted them on my blog. Then Hemant Mehta (Friendly Atheist) and Dale McGowan (Foundation Beyond Belief) introduced me to Chipin for fundraising and I was off to the races.
What happened over the next few weeks was both amazing and inspirational.
There was an amazing outpouring of support from the Atheist and Humanist community. With well-timed mentions on blogs Pharyngula, Canadian Atheist, the Humanist Chaplaincy at Rutgers, a secret donor along with friends and family on Facebook, we were able to make our goal and construction began!
The Situation Today
The structure of the coop is complete now and it’s full of chicks and chickens. There is even a guard dog and thorny bristle planted around the structure to keep thieves out. The children are learning what are actually practical skill in Uganda while tending to the chickens.
Although these are egg laying chickens, they are still young. The first eggs aren’t expected until the beginning of the new year. You can follow the progress here.
The Kasese United Humanist Association – from which the school sprang – owns several acres of land near Kasese. There are plans to develop the land and eventually grow produce for the children.
In addition, the computer lab has been renovated at the school. I believe the plan is to start providing training to parents as well as children to make them more employable in the future.
How You Can Help
Why not spread the word?
You can Like the school’s Facebook page here. Blog about it. Tweet about it. Tell people about it. You may feel like you have nothing to offer, but someone else who sees your message on a social network may!
If you would like to do more, why not visit my page on the school?
It provides links directly into the school site: My Secret Atheist Blog’s KHPS Landing Page. Suggestions on how to help are on this page. On this page you will find out how to contact Bwambale, if you would like to run ideas past him.
If there is one thing I have learned working with the school is that nobody is in a situation where they can not help in some way. I helped to build a chicken coop for a school in Africa with blog posts!
Finally, check out the school’s website here.
By Godless Poutine
Blogger at My Secret Atheist Blog
* Taken from KHPS 'About Us' Page