Showing posts with label charity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label charity. Show all posts

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Turkish Atheist Association Volunteers Feeding the Homeless


Back in March, I wrote about the fantastic and brave Atheist Association of Turkey, who are regularly getting death threats and had to even install a panic button in their building direct to the police. There are groups out to get them and even the government has blocked their website.

This group is so great though, that even when their own safety is under threat, they choose to help their community. Recently, they have begun distributing free soup - giving back to their community.

The distribution happens on Wednesdays, and you can contribute on their Twitter account. I haven't checked it out yet, and language is an obvious barrier for me.

Here are some pictures from their Twitter update.


(Image source)

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

BiZoHa Orphanage - 'With Science We Can Progress!'

The Andrea Vogt Roadside Stand will allow the school to sell homegrown produce alongside a busy highway.
This is a guest post by Chris de Brabander documenting some of the absolutely astounding progress being made at the BiZoHa orphanage in Uganda!



The project to build and operate a secular orphanage in Uganda was launched at the end of February, and in just a little over four months time has made remarkable progress. 

Donations have steadily streamed in, and under the capable management of Project Director Bwambale Robert, already five buildings are completed including the hostel, classroom, kitchen, latrine, and a roadside stand for earning income from sale of snacks, drinks and crafts on the local road frequented by travelers. Construction has also started and is progressing very quickly on a health clinic at the site. 

The BiZoHa Clinic will serve the local communities as well as the orphanage and school. While it will not be able to handle all the medical needs of the area, it will be a great relief. Currently there is only one small government-run clinic serving the six local communities, and most essential drugs are not always available at that health unit. 

BiZoHa Clinic will have a trained medic with a small science lab for examining specimens and dispensing medications for common problems such as malaria and parasites. They will also provide health and hygiene education to the community.


Future plans for the site include adding a museum, which will feature exhibits about the culture of the Rwenzori People and way of living. It will serve as a tourist attraction and an educational tool for research students. Plans to erect more hostels to serve orphans plus students to enroll in the future school and some guest houses to shelter volunteers and guests will come in the course of time. These will offer alternate sources to sustainability.

Water has been piped in to BiZoHa from the mountains. In addition, Bwambale has plans to install rainwater harvesting tanks to supplement the piped water, especially as sometimes the pipes break or get washed away. Tank water can be used for washing clothes, bathing and in the latrine toilets.

BiZoHa plants crops in order to be self-sustaining, and irrigation is needed during the dry season for the crops to thrive. Also, Bwambale is exploring whether further water purification mechanisms might be put in place at point of use for drinking water, to replace boiling.

One solar panel has been installed, and a second has been funded and will be installed very soon. These solar panels and others (funding welcomed!) will make the site self-sustaining with electricity.

The intention is to enclose the hostels, classrooms, dining area, kitchen and toilets in one walled area for security reasons, with the clinic just outside the walls. 


The local community has been very welcoming. Local construction businesses have been busily engaged in getting the site ready quickly for the arriving orphans. A matron has been hired to look after the children in the hostel, and there will also be employment for a cook, teachers, medic, and perhaps other positions as BiZoHa becomes increasingly established. The site will welcome sixteen orphans in late August, and Bwambale has been visiting the local communities to identify children for this pioneer group. 

In addition BiZoHa’s school will accept students on a tuition basis from the nearby communities. Education will be secular humanist, based on science and using reason and free thought as the foundation for knowledge. Instruction will be in English to establish the footing for success in life for the children. The motto of the school will be “With Science, We Can Progress” which is painted on buildings along with the “Happy Humanist” logo. 

Opportunities to sponsor room, board and tuition for the resident orphans ($250 per year) and needy local students who live at home ($125 per year for tuition only, and/or $90 for meals at school) are available. Information on some orphans is already listed and ready to accept donations. Sponsors will receive communications about the child’s progress in school. 


In addition to scholarships, donations to the building and outfitting of the site are very much needed and each one is so very appreciated. These monies will go to such things as security, a microscope for the lab, medications and supplies, educational items for the school, furnishings, uniforms for the children, play equipment, partial sponsorships, food, etc.  To support this project financially, any coin counts and will be spent on what it’s meant for! 

Donations can be made easily at 

For inquiries on large donations to sponsor upcoming construction needs (building dedications), or any donation where a tax receipt is desired, please visit the Brighter Brains website and donate via that channel and use the email provided there to indicate that the donation is for BiZoHa and whether there is any particular need you want your donation to go toward.  [Note that due to summer vacations, tax receipts will be processed after August 18 and email responses will be delayed.]

We look forward to hearing from you. With science, we can progress!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Above All, Displaced Iraqi Refugees 'Need Bibles!'

Some other charity concerned with malnutrition gave Iraqi refugees hygiene kits, but no Bibles?! (source)
Tens of thousands of people have become refugees in Iraq because of ISIS, sectarian violence and the recent wars. The above picture shows a little refugee girl in Iraq waiting to receive a hygiene kit from the UK charity Action Against Hunger UK.

Well, this is all fine and good, but there was no reference to them receiving Bibles! Do they have Bibles? They're probably Muslim and in dire need to hear the words of Jesus Christ! Who will save them?

Anti-marriage equality, anti-homosexual, anti-abortion, anti-evolution missionary Michael Marcavage will, that's who!

He and his organization, Repent America, have started up this fundraiser to make sure that anyone being forced to leave their homes in Iraq, abandon all that they own, and wander aimlessly towards whatever shelter or protection they can find -- these poor (mostly non-Christian) souls will get an Arabic/Kurdish audio Bible they can listen to while they walk... for miles and miles in the hot hot sun! Isn't that grand?

biblesforiraq.org
Oh yes, it is!  The fundraiser page reminds us that above all Iraqis need the words of Life. I guess they might also perhaps be craving a little potable water, some food, somewhere to safely defecate, some shelter, some new shoes, a lift to somewhere safe -- but most of all these people really look like they could use a little gadget to listen to the Bible on!
We hope to take these audio Bibles to northern Iraq later this year and put them in the hands of a people who have been more devastated and displaced than any other people group. Will you join with us as we work to reach our goal of $30,000 to purchase 1,000 audio Bibles? The cost for each solar-powered Bible is approximately $35, plus transport. So, please consider a donation of $40 or more to help us reach our goal. However, a donation in any amount will be a blessing to the Iraqi people. Your gift of the Scriptures to a displaced Iraqi refugee will help to work to change the nation. 100% of donations go directly toward project fund and are tax-deductible. A receipt will be e-mailed to you for tax purposes.
Especially in Northern Iraq, with all this Islamic State incursion. I would imagine they would want to keep these little devices with them and turned on at all times!

biblesforiraq.org
So, move over $20 solar powered backpack for carrying your school books in which lets you plug in a LED light to study at night! What good are you going to be when the person's dead and at the pearly gates?

Move over actual working radio which might help people know what's going on!

Move over pretty much everything any secular charity is doing for these refugees!

None of these things are Bibles!

"Perhaps you've wondered how you can help make a difference in Iraq for such a dark time as this. How can you care for the oppressed and hurting? Most importantly, how can you make an eternal difference in the lives of the Iraqi people?"

This might sound crazy, coming from my crazy atheist lips, but you could give refugees things they can actually use to make their lives here on earth better! You know, rather than concentrating on what happens to their souls after they're dead -- because all they had was a crummy electric Bible.

That's just me though.

Why not check out Action Against Hunger, instead? They have a nice campaign for helping out the Kurds in Northern Iraq which does not appear to involve handing out these gadgets.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Help Dopio and Other Orphans in Uganda's First Atheist Orphanage: BiZoHa

One of the orphans, Dopio Everlyne. Her father died and mum is too sick with epilepsy to properly care for her.
In March, I posted an interview with Bwambale Robert, Director of the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda. With the help of the atheist and Humanist community, Bwambale is opening the first non-religious -- atheist -- orphanage in the world and he's doing it in Kasese, Uganda.

After a successful fundraiser by Hank Pellissier at the Brighter Brains Institute, construction began on the orphanage. You can follow the amazing construction of the new orphanage over at Hank's blog.

In the first 60 days since the initial fundraiser raised $5,830 for the construction of the new orphanage, just take a look at all that's been achieved!:
  • A primary dormitory building was constructed, with glass windows, for 25 orphans and staff.
  • A 30 ft deep latrine was dug.
  • A pipeline to bring fresh water was installed.
  • A substantial portion of the orphanage's 7 acres of land has been seeded with crops for the sake of future self-sustainability.
Here's a photograph of the new crops. The smart white and red building is the dormitory (building 1) of the orphanage.

Crops planted around the new BiZoHa orphanage dormitory building.
Since then, a generous donor, Dr Bruce Chou, anesthesiologist from California, has contributed $1,000, which is going to construct a classroom for the children. Construction has already begun on this new structure.


This is amazing progress for this project, but more funds are required to see it fully to fruition. Now that the buildings are going up, supplies are required to get the orphanage off the ground and functional -- so that children can move in.

Full disclosure, I am an honorary fellow over at Brighter Brains. Here is a list of the items we want to raise funds for.
Items Needed Now for BiZoHa Orphanage: 
  • $1,200 - Kitchen construction, plus pots, pans, utensils, and appliances
  • $500 - Solar panels - for electricity! BiZoHa is on the equator, with daily sunshine
  • $350 - 1/2 year salary for orphan's "Mother" Guardian
  • $350 - 1/2 year salary for orphan's "Father" Guardian
  • $925 - construction of Roadside Stand (where farm produce and beverages will be sold for self-sufficiency) 
This comes to a grand total of $3,325 needed. The goal here is to use this money to kickstart the institution into self-sufficiency.
BiZoHa Orphanage will be economically self-sufficient in 1 year. This goal will be achieved by selling corn, beans, cassava, peanuts, and lettuce grown on its farm, and by selling drinks at a roadside stand, on the adjacent well-traveled road.
Remember Dopio Everlyne, the little girl whose picture is featured on this post along with a previous post in November when Bwambale provided her with a kikoy dress? At that time, her father had died and her mother was too ill with epilepsy to care for her. She was living with her grandmother. She will be one of the first children to be moved to the new orphanage.
Orphans will soon be moved to BiZoHa - from Muhokya, Kahendero (fishing village on Lake George), and Kasese (provincial capital). The orphans - like Dopio (top photo) - are 5-8 years old.

Muhokya is near the Rwenzori mountains and the Congo border.
As mentioned above, this will be more than just a place to take care of children. A classroom is being constructed and the orphanage will be affiliated with the Kasese Humanist Primary School.
BiZoHa will provide its orphans with an excellent education, because they’ll be instructed by the highly-regarded, science-based Kasese Humanist Primary School (KHPS). Many graduates of KHPS advance to secondary schools and universities.

Secular education and atheism in Uganda is supported by Atheist Alliance International , Foundation Beyond Belief  , PZ Myers , and other irreligious groups and individuals in Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, USA, and Canada (the “Godless Poutine ”)
Like the Humanist school, BiZoHa has the humanist logo on the side of its first building, celebrating its humanist pedigree.


In addition to all of this, there are amazing rewards for donations, ranging from a copy of Bwambale's e-book Orphans of Rwenzori: A Humanist Perspective to getting your name or photo on a permanent plaque on one of the buildings.

There will be more updates to this as the weeks go on. For now, I'll invite you to follow developments over at the Orphans at Kasese Humanist Primary School Facebook page. I also encourage you to make a donation to this cause for the sake of secular education in Uganda and to show the world that atheists really do run organizations which help the community.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Results! Humanist and Atheist Charities Sprouting & Flourishing In Uganda!

First building of the new atheist orphanage in Uganda.
There is something amazing going on in Uganda! People are getting together -- Humanists, atheists and others -- to help Ugandans help themselves! I know, it's not even close to religious charities in terms of size, but it's growing.

Earlier this month, I featured an interview with Bwambale Robert, one of the founders of the first atheist orphanage in Uganda -- and the world.
Like I said, we are breaking the monopoly that religious people alone have no right to own orphanages, people with no belief also care about orphans. I think this will send a signal to religious people that we are not sitting back when we see some injustices committed in the name of religion; we have had of pedophile priests, pastors defiling children, children made to do hard labor, children being molested or abused.
Well, thanks to a successful fundraiser, construction has begun on BiZoHa Orphanage. You'll find several updates on this over at the Brighter Brains blog.

Last update on the orphanage Facebook page are some photos of the first building, a hostel or dormitory for the children.

First building of the new atheist orphanage in Uganda is a dormitory for the children.

Here is a extract from Kasese Humanist Primary School Director and BiZoHa founder, Bwambale Robert from a recent update (30 March) on the page:
Here is a brief update on what is going on at BiZoHa Site in Muhokya, Kasese District - Uganda.
  • The hostel has finally been roofed with colored iron sheets.
  • The pit latrine has been roofed and plastered fully, it remains to be shuttered though plus fixing a curtain wall.
  • Tapped water has been brought to the site.
  • The latrine is almost complete as the remaining work is to put on shutters.
  • As it’s a rainy season now, we have cultivated ground nuts, maize and some beans on the Site plantation area.
  • The locals however are insisting that we put in place classrooms so that the very many orphans in this area get chance to attain quality education which still lacks in this area.
  • The constructed hostel will accommodate 16-18 orphans plus one caregiver.
For any kind of assistance to this cause, pass it through the Brighter Brains Institute through their website http://brighterbrains.org/

Attached are the images of the developments as they unfold. Many thanks indeed for supporting our cause.
In the wake of an extremely harmful anti-LGBT wave of fundamentalist Christianity flooding into Uganda from the United States, there now seems to be a small, building, wave of Secular Humanism and religion-free atheist organizations sprouting up. Although the money is most certainly coming in from well wishers outside of Uganda, these organisations are being founded locally, at the grassroots level with the plan of being self-sustaining.

You've got the Kasese Humanist Primary School, which succeeded in buying land for a permanent home (they are renting their old location). They then built a new campus and are now offering nursery school and primary school services. They also have a small medical and anti-parasite clinic on campus!

Of course, you have this new atheist orphanage under construction, with zero affiliation to any religion whatsoever -- apparently unique for Uganda.

Mario Mouton and Deanie Mouton are doing amazing work with their KidsHeartKids Humanist charity! Just recently, they completed a classroom for Humanist Empowerment of Livelihoods in Uganda (HELU).

If you missed what this is about, I posted about it earlier on this blog.
There’s a brilliant and highly achievable project in Uganda like this. It’s called HELU (Humanist Empowerment of Livelihoods Uganda). In Uganda, single at risk women with children often find themselves trapped in crushing poverty with little chance of escape. HELU welcomes them and teaches trades like vocational skills, farming, sewing and hair styling. HELU even builds them a permanent place to live -- brick hut with thatched roof -- and provides them with start up money to build a business so they can get their lives started!
Here's the classroom now! 



New HELU classroom. (source)
For the cost of a missionary's plane ticket and living expenses to go to Uganda and share one book, you can find locals that care, and local labor that needs the money to build a classroom and fill it with books.
I love it! You can help this project over at their website.

More recently, they have begun work on a chicken coop at the site to increase self sustainability. This is the first boost that the Kasese Humanist Primary School got a few years ago, thanks to this blog and others!

There's a lot going on in Uganda. So much that I don't think I can keep track of it all. This alone is a sign that things have picked up immensely since only a few years ago.

So I suggest you follow the above Facebook pages!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Calling All Redditors!


Just in case anyone here doesn't read Hemant Mehta's Friendly Atheist blog, I'll quickly point you to a very worthwhile cause that can use your help -- so long as you have a Reddit account.

Reddit has decided to donate 10% of their 2014 advertising revenue to charity, and they'd like you to decide which ones will get the dough.
For 2014 we decided to “decimate” our ad revenues to support the goals and causes of the entire community. That means for every $10 in ad revenue we received, we would be splitting $1 equally between 10 charities selected by our community.

We closed the books on 2014 and our total ad revenue was $8,276,594.93. Meaning we are donating $827,659.49! 10 charities chosen by our community will each receive $82,765.95. 
That's some pretty serious ad revenue. 

Hemant posted a couple days ago that Foundation Beyond Belief is a pretty awesome charity to vote for and I wholeheartedly agree! 

In the interest of efficiency, dear Redditor, just click on this link and vote!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Classes Have Begun at the New Kasese Humanist Primary School!

Young students at the new Rukoki campus of the Kasese Humanist Primary School. (source)
My last post about the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda, was written the day before classes began. Here's a little taste of how things are going at the new Rukoki campus of the school. Remember, it was our atheist, Humanist and Freethinker community which helped buy the land, bring electricity and build the brick structures which make up this new school!

If you're on Facebook, remember to go Like the school's page for updates about progress and ways you can help!

On February 2nd, day one on the new campus, School Director Bwambale Robert made a short update about new enrollment and included some pictures of progress in the School Hall, which is the largest, most impressive structure on the premises. Humanist Canada is helping to fund this exercise and here's a link to the photos.
We have today begun the 2015 Academic year, at the Rukoki campus, a total of 62 pupils were registered today and we do expect the number to shoot up in the course of the week. Painting works for the School Hall is in progress.
(source)
Two days later, Bwambale shared that student enrollment at the school had already reached 89! I'll just partially quote his post, but you can find more pictures there!
I today managed to take snapshots of some pupils making use of the just concluded classrooms, the pupils are having good time studying in a quiet and conducive environment. The parents are appreciating the good looks, smart and elegant colors and the good teachers we have just recruited.

As the majority of the pupils are new students, their uniforms is being made and in more weeks ahead, most of the children at the Rukoki Campus will be clad in school uniform.

As a commitment, i assured the parents that we will try our best to offer quality balanced education to the learners. Some of the things not usual in most primary schools are the buildings themselves, well stocked library, computers, science laboratory, spacious site, vocational skills workshop and evidence based learning!, Kasese Humanist Primary School is moving slowly and steadily in the right path to success.

Am attaching images of some classrooms, school hall updates, poultry updates and the outdoor school environment. With Science, we can progress.
(source)
(source)
(source)
To give you an idea of how quickly things are progressing at the school, just two days later, Bwambale updated again about the new Pelissier Science Laboratory, which has been constructed to help treat students for intestinal parasites and other illnesses which affect their learning and quality of life. The laboratory was stocked by Hank Pelissier from Brighter Brains Institute after a successful fundraiser.
Some months ago, the Pellissier Science Laboratory was established at the school. The purpose of this laboratory is to show case the school purpose and commitment to promote science through service delivery. The lab handles simple medical examinations, tests and drugs to our children, staffs and a section of our parents, it also has reservations of stocking up some of the usual science apparatus and science related model requirements that match with our educational system. Lastly the laboratory offers first aid treatments to our students.

Funds that maintain the smooth running of this lab is catered for by the Pellissier Family based in the United States who are friends to the school. Their assistance is a gesture aimed at saving lives of children and staffs at the school. The laboratory is managed by a qualified medical lab technician who does the stool and blood examination. Attached is an image of one of our dedicated staff issuing out some medicine to one pupil who is suffering from Malaria. Indeed Science has better answers to solving the problems that affect our lives. With Science, we can progress.
A huge thanks to Hank and the Brighter Brains Institute, of which I've been made a fellow! I've been called an interesting fellow but I've never been on someone's staff as a fellow.
(source)
The school now has a dedicated medical staff member to diagnose and treat common illnesses including parasites. (source)
I've been following the school for at least three years now and the progress has been astounding!

If you would like to help, why not donate some money to the following organizations?
(Paypal: Choose Kasese Option)

(Paypal)

(Directed Donation at bottom of page.)

Remember you can also subscribe to the school's Facebook page! They are very responsive, so if you have any questions about how you, specifically, might be able to use any special skills or knowledge to help out in a non-conventional way, just leave a comment on their posts!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Classes Begin Tomorrow at New Kasese Humanist Primary School Site

The school has really come a long way! Classes scheduled to begin in earnest at new site, tomorrow.
Here's a quick update on the new Rukoki campus over at the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda taken from a recent update on the school's Facebook page.

Classes begin full swing tomorrow at the school. Classrooms have now been mostly furnished. The furniture itself along with library shelves has been made in their own workshop.

Meanwhile, the other buildings on the campus are being connected to the electrical grid. Electricity was actually brought to the land via a fundraiser on this page back in 2013!

Here's a couple more photos of the school, which is painted in the official KHPS colours! Check out the stunning landscape!

(source)
(source)
I still cannot get over how far this school has come since almost precisely two years ago when School Director Bwambale wrote me about purchasing new land for the school!

Remember, you can help this project by donating at one of these locations!

(Paypal: Choose Kasese Option)

(Paypal)

(Directed Donation at bottom of page.)

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Help Uganda Single Mothers Help Themselves

HELU is yet another positive Humanist organization in Uganda. (source)
Back in November, I posted about Mario Mouton at KidsHeartKids who is running a fundraiser to construct a classroom for HELU, Humanist Empowerment of Livelihoods Uganda. This organization helps give job skills to single mothers so they can become self-sufficient. Funds have been raised to begin the construction, but more funds are required.
We have come a long way, but we still need to finish the classroom floor and fill it with supplies. This classroom will free up mothers participating in a program to get them on their feet and provide a better life for their kids as well as and provide a nursery and preschool for their kids. Help us, Help them...Create some smiles.
Check out this construction update I made back in November.

Interested? You can help out at the fundraiser's GoFundMe page!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Pellesier Science Laboratory to Open at Kasese Humanist Primary School

Brighter Brains Director, Hank Pellisier, presends compound microscope to Kasese Humanist Primary School Director Bwambale Robert.
Back in December, I wrote about a fundraiser by Hank Pellissier over at Brighter Brains Institute to open a low-cost parasitology laboratory at the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda.

Well, not long after the call was put out, Hank's own brother and cousin, Bob and Jeff -- both successful business men -- signed onto the effort in a big way!
Bob Pellissier - CEO of RKI Instruments in Union City, California - initiated the idea when he asked Hank for end-of-the-year charity contribution advice. Hank - director of Brighter Brains Institute (BBI) in nearby Piedmont - advised starting a project in Uganda to help the nation’s 3.5 million orphans. Bob’s interest in science eventually led them to the science-based Kasese Humanist Primary School, where the director - Bwambale Robert - enthusiastically offered free space in a newly-built facility.

Jeff Pellissier - West Hollywood Farmer’s Insurance Agency owner - offered to join with a contribution, and additional capital was gained via a GoFundMe campaign. When enough revenue was secured, a local sign-maker - Mbusa Chrispus - was contracted to paint the first “Pellissier Science Laboratory” (PSL) sign.

The three Pellissiers will stock the lab with a microscope, fecal-testing equipment, mosquito nets, and a malaria diagnostic kit, plus a drug cabinet stocked with medicine: albendazole, praziquantal, coartem, duocotexcin, and potent pharmaceuticals. A Ugandan medical technician will be employed to run the laboratory.
The lab at Kasese Humanist Primary School will open first because School Director, Bwambale Robert, has renovated a clean new space for it at the school's new Rukoki campus. Two more laboratories are also planned around Western Uganda.

Hank has since traveled to Kasese and presented equipment needed to begin treating children who go to the school and children in the surrounding community!

Among the items that were received included a Compound Microscope, fecal testing kits, and first aid supplies. These items are among the start ups that are going to gear up a functional Pellissier Science Laboratory at Kasese Humanist Primary School. The lab will house science equipment, carry on simple experiments, possess models and some essential drugs to treat day to day diseases most common among children like worms infections, skin diseases, malaria, Anthrax, Hiv and hepatitis B to mention but a few. A qualified Medical lab technician has been contracted to help out in the smooth running of this school laboratory. All services offered by this laboratory will be free of charge.
The Pellissier Science Laboratory targets to serve more than 400 school going children, KHPS Staffs and some locals especially parents of the school. 
This is big! Finally, a Secular Humanist school giving back to the community and making a difference in the lives of dozens, perhaps hundreds.

The laboratory itself features a tile floor to maximize sanitary conditions along with medicine cabinets. This is a thousand miles better than the school's previous ramshackle location and it's all thanks to donors!


On a related development, the Pellissier Science Laboratory has been designed in a way that it adjusts to the minimum standards by having a tiled floor; essential drugs to be stored in shelves with fitted glass enclosures and a standby sink, a disposable dust bin will also be available.
The post also contains pictures of the latrines at the new Rukoki campus, which have come a long way from the hole in the ground it was only a year ago.
January 2015

February 2014 (source)
This is such a huge success! If you would like to support the Kasese Humanist Primary School:
(Paypal: Choose Kasese Option)

(Paypal)

(Directed Donation at bottom of page.)

I'd like to thank the Pellesiers for this amazing project and look forward to working with them as a new active fellow at Hank's Brighter Brains Institute

Monday, 29 December 2014

Huge Progress at Kasese Humanist Primary School!

Newly-built children's desks at the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda. (source)
I can still remember the very first days of building repair at the new Kasese Humanist Primary School Rukoki campus like it was yesterday. Back in March 2013, modest repairs began on a single damaged building on newly acquired land for a permanent Humanist school in that region. There was no electricity to the building yet and a huge gaping hole was in the wall where someone had made off with the last door.

Picture of single building on Rukoki campus on March 2013.

Since then, entire classroom blocks have been constructed and the tiny chicken shed I helped them construct in 2012 has been replaced with a brand new building on the new site! So as to not waste anything, School Director Bwambale Robert has hired local craftsmen to convert some of the old timbers from the shed into desks for the children, some forty! They are using the school's new vocational centre (training workshop) as a staging place for this construction.

From a December 16th Facebook post:
Making furniture at the school site is going on smartly and the carpenters are trying to speed up the works, so far they have made forty twin desks. Each desk accommodates 3 pupils and on average, we normally place 12 desks in each class. The KHPS CLASSROOM is designed to accommodate 50 children per classroom.
Here are a few pictures of the carpenters building the desks.

Carpenters at work in the Kasese Humanist Primary School vocational workshop. (source)
(source)
(source)
Bwambale wrote on December 21st that they were 50% done the furniture.
Right now I am 50% done in making up the school furniture for the Rukoki Campus, have tried making 40 twin desks, 2 sitter benches totaling to 10 and Twenty stools. All these so far plus the 24 plastic chairs we have for toddlers can have 184 pupils sitted and this puts us at a better side. I will perhaps do more furniture as in teacher’s tables, filing cabinets, Vocational center tool cupboards and shelves. Also will try to ensure each classroom has a size-able cupboard or book shelf.
Back in August 2013, I posted about how electricity was soon coming to the school grounds. Well, now Bwambale has put in an order to get clean potable water connected to the school. I believe this is even a step above the old school grounds.
On the other hand, I have today filled in an application to the National Water and Sewerage Corporation to extend safe piped (tap) water to the school permanent property and i am optimistic before the school reopens we will be connected to the water grid.
I am also working on ramping the School toilet and the lower primary classrooms at the site. Ramps are very important as they allow disabled people to go in or out of a building, even wheelchair bound persons can have free movement either side of the building.
As well, on December 21st:
In an effort to finalize works on the 8 stance toilet, we are working on a curtain wall to shield off the latrine from other school buildings for privacy reasons and in line with the Uganda Ministry of Education Minimum standards, we have fixed ramps on both sides and we have partitioned the toilets separated by a brick wall, we shall also make urinals with tiled walls to allow urine flow with ease to the soak pit. We intend to put wash rooms as well for bathing purposes.

Outside of the toilets in the vicinity, we shall install a plastic rain water harvesting tank to help the children in washing their hands, bodies after visiting the toilets or after games time.
I'll be looking forward to some pictures of this!

In a more recent Facebook post, Bwambale shared recent construction work on the Main Hall building. This is the largest building on the campus and last year around this time, it was at risk from an oncoming rainy season. Well, the structure itself was completed and now, thanks to generous help from Humanist Canada, more finishing work is being done to it.
On 27th December, I was working on the school hall again after some silence. Works on completion of this unit is courtesy of Humanist Canada who provided some funds to complete and beautify this unit soon and so far not bad. The floor had to be filled with soil, add a layer of murram on top and construct a small wall to act as a foundation for the stage which will be raised from the other area of the school hall.
Today, the builders started the work of adding a slab which will cover the entire inside part, other tasks to be made are working on pouring the ceiling and possible plastering, floor smoothing, ramping to the stage and finalization of the stage area.

The school hall will serve the following: Venue for important Examinations like Primary Leaving Examinations, school meetings, social functions and important events like debates and possible marriage functions of some locals.
Wouldn't it be fantastic to see Humanist wedding ceremonies take place in this hall?

Building a small stage in the Main Hall for social and community events. (source)
Main Hall (source).
Ceiling of Main Hall will be covered with concrete. (source)
In case that's not enough good news for you, a fundraiser by Henri Pellissier from the Brighter Brains Institute to build a low cost parasitology laboratory at the school was a success!
Brighter Brains Institute (BBI) has raised $2,675 in only two days to launch a “Parasitology Laboratory” in western Uganda, at Kasese Humanist Primary School (KHPS). The de-worming institute will slay helminths that lurk inside the 325 KHPS students and the 70,000 inhabitants of Kasese, a Rwenzori mountain town. The laboratory will also instruct students in medicine, hygiene, and human biology. BBI raised its funding via a GoFundMe campaign.
Henri will be travelling to the school in a couple of weeks. A space is already being prepared for the new facility.
On 26th December, I was at the school site the whole day trying to engage my builders to do works on the Pellissier Science Laboratory where work on the ceiling is in progress.
Great progress into the new year at the Kasese Humanist Primary School! You can help the school out by donating to one of these organizations!

(Paypal: Choose Kasese Option)

(Paypal)

(Directed Donation at bottom of page.)

Monday, 15 December 2014

Help Kasese Humanist Primary Students Learn - Without Intestinal Parasites

Around 3.75 IQ points are lost per parasite infection and an MIT study “found that deworming was by far the most cost-effective way to increase primary school participation.” Kasese Humanist Primary School student (source).
I truly believe there is no greater force for positive change in the world than bringing knowledge and critical thinking to young minds through dogma-free evidence-based education. However, no mind can flourish if the body withers. This is why my first fundraising project for the Kasese Humanist Primary School was an egg-providing chicken coop.

Intestinal parasites, which are a common problem in the Kasese region's primary schools, work directly against this goal.
Worm infections interfere with nutrient uptake; can lead to anemia, malnourishment and impaired mental and physical development; and pose a serious threat to children’s health, education, and productivity. Infected children are often too sick or tired to concentrate at school, or to attend at all.

Friday, 5 December 2014

We Got Our Stuff From KidsHeartKids.com!

'The Man' sports his new t-shirt and then he snaps a shot of me in my new tee. Bozo the clown got nothing out of this, but 'the Man' insisted his favourite new toy be in the picture. Yes, that is a nativity scene.
You might remember a few weeks back, Mario Mouton over at KidsHeartKids.com created an excellent fundraiser to build a classroom in Uganda for HELU. Like many fundraisers, you got stuff based on your donation size. Well, my tee-shirt and the wonderful print arrived! We also found a wonderful little tee for 'The Man!' who loves dinosaurs! 

Thanks to the Mouton family!

Remember, you can make a real difference! Check out the KidsHeartKids Facebook page for the latest info!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

HELU Classroom Construction Begins in Uganda!

HELU is yet another positive Humanist organization in Uganda. (source)
Back in October, I posted about a brilliant initiative by Mario Mouton of kidsheartkids.com to build a classroom to help educate children while their mothers learned valuable, life-changing, trade skills at HELU (Humanist Empowerment of Livelyhoods Uganda) in the Gulu region. A fundraiser was set up to raise $1,500 to build a single classroom structure and various thank you items were offered to donors -- I donated $50 and got a nice t-shirt!

Well, as of today, $840 has been raised. That's pretty good! So good that the project was started on November 17th even with funds being short.

Work begun on November 17th. (source)
Well, as I've mentioned before in my post about Humanism at Work in Chicago, KidsHeartKids fundraises at conferences by selling autographed copies of books and other materials at atheist, Humanist and skeptic conferences. It turns out that people over at Skepticon bought so many books and were generally so awesomely amazing, that the classroom construction is completely funded!
We went to a conference called Skepticon and raised enough funds to ensure that the HELU classroom can be fully funded. We will continue to raise funds for it, because once there is a structure we will need to fill it with classroom supplies, toys, and various other needs. Thank you to everyone that contributed. In the funds we raised this weekend we will also fulfill our Art Supplies contribution to Uganda Humanist Schools Trust and we have a ton of stuff to send to Kasese Humanist Primary School. More importantly, we brought a lot of attention to the schools that will hopefully lead to support in the future. Thanks.
So the structure itself is funded, but so far it will just be an empty room. If you want to help put stuff into it, then why not truck on over to the fundraiser page and chip in a few bucks.

As you can also see, KidsHeartKids supports the Kasese Humanist Primary School as well as other Humanist schools in the region. Over the past couple of years, I've seen nothing but amazing results from these charities. Unlike other large charities, you see immediate improvements for your donated dollars. Real difference is being made here for children and communities.

So, my American friends, while you sit down to a turkey (or tofurkey) dinner and are perhaps thankful for what you have, why not contribute a little and make a big difference. You can call it penance for the deep fried turkey or whatever you guys eat! 

A donation to any of these charities might also counteract BLACK FRIDAY which is sort of disgusting... well at least to this Canadian it is.

First batch of building materials being dropped off at HELU for new classroom yesterday. (source)

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Kikoy Dresses for Uganda Orphan Girls

Dopio Everlyne, age 5, Upper Nursery, father died and mum sick with epilepsy, lives with grandmother. 
Kasese Humanist Primary School Director Bwambale Robert and Hank Pellissier, Director of Brighter Brains Institute have teamed up to create a fantastically simple and effective way to help orphan girls in Uganda.

In a nutshell, they have hired a local tailor to make custom kikoy dresses for orphan children throughout the Kasese District -- mainly impoverished regions near the Congo border.

Help Orphans in Uganda Humanist School - buy a girls dress for $12

It really cannot be any more simple. You send twelve dollars and an orphan girl gets a dress.
We paid our tailor - Mr. Safari to sew 100 dresses of East African Kikoy cloth. We will give these lovely, well-made dresses to orphan girls who reside throughout the district, many in remote orphanages maintained by widows.
Just to prove that this money is not going to waste and to show just how amazingly effective your $12 was, a photograph of the child in the dress will be posted onto the Kasese Humanist Orphans Facebook page!

One of the first children to receive a dress from longtime Humanist school supporter, Mary Bellamy.
(Kasese Humanist Orphans)
Or more specifically, you will get:
  • A Thank You note from a director
  • A photograph of an orphan girl wearing a dress you purchased - holding a Thank You poster addressed to you (whenever possible*)
  • HTML copy of the upcoming book Orphans of Rwenzori - a humanist perspective - authored by the directors of this campaign.
I don't know how anyone could deny that this is value for your money!

* (2014-11-14) Depending on whether the dress is delivered locally or mailed (to save costs), the personalized photo might not be available. In cases where distances are too great, post will be used. Other times,  the girls may simply not be available to immediately change into the dress upon delivery, or technical difficulties may occur with photographic equipment. In these cases, a well-taken photograph of one of the orphan girls will be sent instead. This will allow this initiative keep overhead as low as possible in order to concentrate on optimizing the number of dresses distributed -- e.g. 12 were just mailed out to an orphanage in Jinja.


Just in case you are still skeptical of where the money goes, here's a breakdown of the expenses:
The kikoy dresses cost us $6.50 in materials and labor. Another $1.50 is spent on transferring/ wiring fees. Delivering dresses to orphans costs about $1 per dress.

The remaining $3.00 per dress cost will be donated to the 34 orphans of Kasese Humanist Primary School, to help pay for their tuition, meals and rooming.
The Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda has been a life changer for hundreds of local children and families. You can help them help the community and improve knowledge of science and skepticism in Uganda at the same time.

This initiative is also extremely smart because it employs local industry to help the local economy, it cuts out any substantial international shipping costs and shipping times and it has a very small carbon footprint.

Just in case this isn't enough. Let's take a look at who we're helping here.
Uganda has 3.5 million orphans - almost 10% of the population. Children are parentless due to AIDS, civil wars, violence, accidents, and abandonment.

An orphan life in this impoverished nation is difficult. Uganda’s per capita income is $567 per year; rural income is half that. Education for orphans is limited. When they “age out” of orphanages, many become “street kids ” sniffing glue, stealing, scavenging in garbage dumps, begging. Among girls, 60% end up in prostitution, where the HIV/AIDS rate is 37%.

Small Ugandan orphans are often naked; girls’ dresses are frequently old pillowcases.
We're talking about $12 dollars to immediately make a positive change in an orphan's life.

Read all about this initiative over at the Kasese Humanist Orphans Facebook page!


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