Showing posts with label kasese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kasese. Show all posts

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Interview With Humanist School Volunteer and How You Can Help

Maseraka Solomon maintains and augments the computer lab at Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda.
Maseraka Solomon volunteers at the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda. I've written before about his good work as part of a school staff profile series I did back in April of last year. I also did a post about a letter exchange done with US students which featured a short quote from Maseraka.

Maseraka is a graduate of Information Technology from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda's largest city. Since he has discovered Humanism and atheism, he has found his calling: to volunteer at the school and make a difference for young people in a dogma free environment. Getting children -- many orphans -- in Kasese exposed to computer technology and the Internet is a big step towards functioning in the 21st century workplace and opening their minds to a universe of ideas.

To make this possible, Melissa McAllister, a US ex-pat living in Bavaria, Germany has set up a fundraiser to help fund Maseraka's efforts.


Although Melissa has a disability which prevents her from traveling far from her home. She is now using her networking and crowd-funding skills to raise money to help Masereka do good for children in Uganda.

Awhile back, I set up a banner for the fundraiser on the right side of this blog, but I wanted to do more for him. I thought an interview with Maseraka might also help people know where he comes from and what he wants to do as a Humanist doing good for others in Uganda. You'll find Maseraka's responses to an email interview below. Note that I've corrected some spelling and grammar.

When and where did you grow up? How many brothers and sisters do you have?
I was born in 1989 in a small village called Kakogha Karambi Sub-County in Kasese district western Uganda. I stayed in the village with my mother until the age of five when my father enrolled me in town school where he had his business. My father had many wives and many children of which my mother has two boys and five girls. I am the last born of my mum.
Are your parents religious? Were your once religious?
My father died when I was still young but he was of a different unique faith. My mother is a strong Catholic who thinks everything is from the will of god. Dad was selfless Protestant who later converted to another religion of a man in Uganda who calls himself GOD and claims that Jesus never was. This man is called Ow’ obusobozi Bisaka’ he was a good friend to my dad. 
I therefore can’t say I was that religious because I was exposed to different beliefs. My dad was not strict with any of his children concerning religion. He was free and loving. He was friends with this Ugandan god because perhaps he also questioned the works of religions. He died of high blood pressure and diabetes in early 2000. I think he was a humanist/atheist but never knew how to define himself that because of the community he lived in.
How did you discover Humanism, critical thinking and science?
Sometimes we are made what we are because of the communities we lived in when we were young. Most likely a religious mother and father will bring up a religious child who will later believe the dogmas of her/his parents teach. I grew up in the hands of many parents.

My step mum was a Muslim. I saw how they all prayed. I used to ask my mother why Christians hate Muslims so much. I was never a friend of wasting my time to prayers, my mother knew that since childhood. I used to go to sleep when it was time for prayers.

With my dad it was different. His religion almost had the same Lords’ Prayers but there they are directed to the Ugandan Ugandan God Bisaka.

With all this exposure I was able to discover Humanism, critical thinking and science. I also credit much of the reading material provided by Bwambale Robert who is also a humanist and also my love for reading. I came to Bwambale because he was the only one that easily understand my style of life.
Did you come out as a Humanist or atheist to your parents and friends and family?
Yes, I came out as an atheist to my mother and family members and my friends. It has been hard for both of them to understand how possible it is to live good without GOD. However, I am firm with my atheism and humanism principles when I relate with my family.
Has this affected your relationships with them?
Yes, my relationships have been greatly affected. Some friends have limited their communication with me. I however try my best to explain what I stand for and why. I have also shown them that things are not possible because of god or prayers but because of hard work and doing well to others. I follow no ten biblical commandments, I value the ten principles of a rational world.
Has this jeopardized family support for you?
It has to some extent, but currently they are left amazed because of selfless ideas. I have two sisters who have greatly applauded my activities though they still want me to join them for prayers. I hope one time they will be joining my art of helping people live better lives. I have not distanced myself from my family members. I have worked and helped them in a number of activities. I have also been their best advisor and consultant whenever they have problems not limited to marriage/relationships, sickness, stress, and education. I think my atheism and humanism has positively benefited those around me.
Where are you living now? How are you supporting yourself?
I am currently living in Kasese town and spending most of my time working at Kasese Humanist Primary School Railway Campus. I love the teachers and the children there. We are the only school that has a sense of humanism. We understand our backgrounds and make discussions based on serious positive thinking. We teach just like other schools around but we are open to discuss reason and faith. What is supporting my life here is hard work and use of my skills positively. I think I am doing well to the community and the opposite is true though with a few challenges.

Life in Uganda is not easy unless one understands that Uganda is a developing country which needs to welcome development strategies proposed by different investors and also support human rights basing on reason but not faith. Because Uganda is God fearing state, it’s a big problem to develop positively.
What have been your volunteering duties at the school in the past? What are they now?
My volunteering duties have not been limited to exposing children to computers. It’s been a great deal of volunteering at Kasese Humanist. I have helped pupils write to penpals in other states supported by KidsHeartKids charity, teaching subjects like Social Studies, counselling children when necessary, meeting different people (the teachers) and explaining what humanism is.  Currently I am more than a volunteer at Kasese Humanist. I love the school and hope its quality continues to improve daily.

What do you require the funding for? Projects? Sustenance?
I thank all those who have so far put in a great amount of funds to my fundraiser. I have already paid for the printer and a new laptop, I also have a few plain papers, having enough plain papers, refilling the printer is important in order to keep providing teachers and the pupils with learning materials at Kasese Humanist.

I think humanity can destroy humanity but still humanity has all the power to save humanity regardless of their location, there are a number of problems both students, teachers and parents face as they all to look to have a good life.

Lives need to be improved. Learning environments also need serious improvement so as to have well informed population in future and now. With an informed mass we reduce the suffering and violation of human rights. When we improve our standards, we get life longevity and this is something also important as we fight the death verse. When the populations are having stress factors, they are likely to die young hence aging is disease we can treat by educating and improving or putting a smile on someone’s face.

With the funds, I am sure many pupils and teachers will have a smile and nice moments to remember hence improving their performance in all their activities. A number of projects can be implemented though small but they will mean a lot to the population which will benefit. Pupils face problems not limited to lack of enough exercise books, lack of mathematical sets, dirty uniforms because their parents are so poor that buying a bar of soap is a problem, torn uniforms without even buttons, dirty hair that needs to be clean or cut short, dirty teeth -- they actually miss that basic parental love and they deserve it.

I think helping such a population is perfect and rewarding, funds are wanted not to benefit me alone but they are meant to benefit a good number of children and improving the teaching standards of teachers at Kasese Humanist. Teachers drawing illustrations on chalkboards may be OK but it may also be a waste of time and very inaccurate. With printed illustrations, the pupils will save time and have access to better drawings and understanding improves. Let these pupils and teachers
also have a feel of modernization.
What are your plans for the future? With the school? Outside of the school? Long term career plans
My future plans are positive towards Kasese Humanist. I think following up the old students of Kasese Humanist Elementary School would sound good.

This calls for perhaps a high school with the same aims of exposing what Humanism and living godless lives means. I find it lacking when pupils move out of Kasese Humanist and most of them join high schools that actually consider prayers important for their success. I think my success has been out of good and hard work, you read you pass, you pray you are nothing but a big problem.

We need to bring reason over faith, we need no religious ideas to drive our education systems. I want to implement a number of projects based on the different acts of kindness that you can think of, they are many ways people can bring positive change to their communities.

Directing another secular school in Uganda is part of my plans, I think improving the quality of teaching in schools is key to having responsible and creative people. Ugandans are lacking because of too much religious departments in their schools. This is hard to understand for the Ugandans because even the state house family runs a family church. I am not there to convert people from their religions, I am there to impress Humanism and atheism. I respect no religion but respect science and reason.
Remember, you can  read more about Masereka Solomon and help to support him through a fundraiser being facilitated by Melissa McAllister.


You can read more about the Kasese Humanist Primary School at their website!

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.)

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.

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!


Saturday, 4 October 2014

KHPS Building New Chicken Coop

The new chicken coop is miles ahead of the original one.
Bwambale Robert, School Director of the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda, has been updating us on the progress of school construction at the new permanent site at the school's Facebook page. By all measures, this is a great success.

One measure is the chicken coop. Back in 2012, this blog along with help from other blogs sent the school enough money to build their own chicken shed. The structure is a smart wooden box -- two stories of chickens.

The original wooden chicken shed at the original leased railroad KHPS site.
Well, since then, with the help of donors, the school has managed to buy its own land for a permanent site and has constructed permanent brick structures for classrooms, latrines, kitchens and training centers. Well, now construction is progressing well on a new chicken coop -- a much bigger one that will allow the school to move towards self-sufficiency.


Bwambale's update:
KHPS coop construction update in photos. Floor slabbed, meshing exercise in progress. Two doors fixed, gable plastered, one front metallic door procured and to be fixed soon at the main entrance.
As for the old coop, it will not be wasted. The timbers from this older structure are still fairly new and will be recycled to build chairs and desks for the new classrooms at the new site.

Take a look at the whole picture set over at the Kasese Facebook page! There, you'll also find out about how a charity has recently sent a shipment of used shoes to the school which has already been distributed to those in need of them.

Remember you can support this effort over at the Atheist Alliance International donation page.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Update From Kasese Humanist Primary School

Kasese Humanist Primary School student, Christine (source).
Wow, it's been awhile since my last update about the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda. I went ahead and emailed School Director Bwambale Robert to get the latest news. Here's the response I got.
Am okay and all is moving on fine. Atheist Alliance International sent in funds amounting to 2.7 K and much of it were mega donations of 2K from Australia. I also received funds from private donors who wish to remain anonymous who gave me funds to finish up the chicken coop at the school site, this time the coop is more spacious and permanent.

Like I told you some months back, upon completion of this new coop, all the chickens we have in the other wooden coop will be transferred in this new one and the timbers from the old coop will be taken to the vocational workshop at the school to make school furniture for the classrooms, there will be nothing lost in this.

Construction kicks in early next week as funds for all these activities are already on our side. As usual I will keep all of you posted on what is going on. Many thanks for your efforts Sean plus of-course all well wishers, supporters and partners.
This is great news. Nice to see the old coop, which this blog helped construct, being put to good use! As you can see, Atheist Alliance International is a huge help to this school. Since the beginning, they have helped collect and send funds and the school has prospered over the past few years -- sending money to Uganda can be quite a struggle, believe me, so this is a huge service they are doing!


You may be wondering who the beautiful smiling child is at the top of this post. That's student Christine and she was one of the students who received a letter from their pen pals in the USA. The letter writing program is being made possible by KidsHeartKids.

Here's Bwambale's update over at the school Facebook page.
It was an exciting moment today 10th September at the school as children participating in the Letter Exchange Program received their return letters from their friends in the USA courtesy of KidsHeartKids Charity. In the package received were also a Soccer cleat and some pairs of socks.

Delivering the package, the School Director Bwambale Robert thanked all participants in this program to keep the friendship strong and encouraged children to always stay in touch with their counterparts as it will help them so much in learning from each other, know what is happening in other countries plus the students improving their skills in letter writing which is a way of communication that brings people together. He told them that we now live in a small world where now the world is a global village.
Go check out the post to see more pictures of happy kids.


Children show some of the gifts they received inside their pen pal letters from the USA. This service is brought to you by KidsHeartKids (source).

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Kasese Humanist Primary School Construction Update!

Open doors of the newly painted and floored Vocational Center.
It's been awhile so I thought I'd share this update on the construction of new classrooms over at the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda. Here are some snippets from School Director Bwambale Robert's latest email to me.
Hi Sean,

It’s long since I updated you plus our readers on what is going on at Kasese Humanist Primary School. We are almost a week to the start of the third term which marks the end of the academic year.

In an effort to ensure we keep our candidates class brains strong, children in this class are having revision classes running as they are having very limited time towards sitting for their Primary Leaving Examinations which is a nationwide done examinations scheduled to take place in November this year.

As per the constructions, for the last two weeks I have been dedicating my time to complete up the vocational center and the school library which had been unroofed for some months. Am happy to inform our followers that the completion of these structures is almost done. I am passing over to you some images of the structures I have been working upon.
Below, is another photo of the newly painted Vocational Center.


Edit 2014-08-31: If you read an earlier version of this post, you'll know that there were two visitors working on a upcoming project for the school. Bwambale informed me just after the post went up that they would actually prefer to keep the project under wraps until it is nearer to completion.

I apologize. I had thought it would be alright to post this here as one of the visitors had posted some information about this on her Facebook so I got the wrong idea. I will talk to them and release news as soon as I can in the future!

The local community is also taking positive notice of the school and the good work and development it is providing for the community. There is already potential interest from families outside of Kasese region and the idea of putting up dormitories (hostels) is being floated hypothetically.
The locals are complimenting my works and are giving me a go ahead; some are even commenting that what am doing is what they would expect to be done from their local leaders like prominent politicians, Member of Parliaments or famous rich men of the area.

These guys are not doing much in the eyes of locals who expect much from them. Such comments comfort me and motivate me to go ahead with what I am doing and a section of people are advising me to put a hostel at the school site to accommodate children from far-away places that might get interest in joining the school. The question is .... where can I get money to put up a hostel facility? Is anyone out there ready to kick start the campaign to build up a hostel at the school.
However, for now the goal is to finish off enough classrooms (10) to be recognized as a full fledged school by the government. As there is also petty crime in the region, there is motivation to wall the school in for protection of goods.

If you want to see more photos and updates, check out the school's Facebook page.
As plans are still in the pipeline as I search for funds to finish up 3 more classrooms and fence up the western side. I appeal to our friends and partners of the school to join me and we fence up the school so that the only entrance to the school buildings is a gate. This is very important to keep safe school properties and children in one place. More works to be done are the walkways, roundabouts, playing materials for children and a talking compound.
Remember you can support this effort over at the Atheist Alliance International donation page.

Painting and shuttering outside facing wall of library building.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Childrens Book About Uganda With Kasese Humanist Primary School Students

Two students wearing their Kasese Humanist Primary School uniforms. 'Good Day Uganda' was written and is being developed by Russell Appelt in Victoria, BC, Canada. (Illustration reprinted with his permission.)
'After breakfast, while it’s still cool, kids from Kasese will walk to school. They’ll learn their lessons and be nobody’s fool. Good morning to Uganda.' 
Awhile back Russell Appelt, from Victoria, British Columbia, came up with the story for a picture book about Kasese Humanist Primary School. Interestingly, he did this by imagining Raffi singing a song about Uganda. He hadn't done anything like this before and isn't an illustrator, but didn't let that get in his way. Much like other volunteers helping this community-supported school, he jumped in and started the project and things are coming together.
I'm not an English major, just a nurse aid working at Aberdeen Hospital here in Victoria. I was doing my own illustrations at first but they were not professional enough. So I decided to hire an artist from Malaysia and I'm very pleased with what he's been able to do so far.
Russell sent me several illustrations and they are all incredibly vibrant and extremely bright and colourful -- like the pictures of Uganda in the summer season.

A Kasese Humanist Primary student wakes up with the Ugandan flag flying outside his window. This is an image from an upcoming childrens book 'Good Day Uganda' being developed by Victoria BC's Russell Appelt. (Illustration reprinted with his permission.)
'Raise the flag, black, yellow and red. Everybody wake up and get out of bed. There’s work to do, don’t be a sleepy head. Good morning to Uganda.'
Although some text is prone to change as the story gets refined, the version of the book I read uses delightful rhyming verse to tell the story of humans, animals and plants on a sunny school day in Uganda. There is no direct mention of science, save for a reference to chimps, the closest living relative to humankind. This book instead instills a wonder in the natural world by referencing the fauna of the region along with some local geographical features.

Russell and his girlfriend Elsie.
Russell hopes to have the project done sometime in 2015. Meanwhile, there will likely be some editing. He would like to add a Fun Facts section to the back of the book with some trivial about the country and a recipe for matoke (plantain stew with meat), which is referenced within the story itself.
Perhaps Bwambale Robert could send me a deliciously authentic one.
As a Humanist parent of a four year old, I really appreciate books like this and hope more will appear. There is a real need for more childrens media in our community.

I'll keep you all posted about the development of this book. If you would like to contact Russell directly, then you can email him at russ.appelt@gmail.com.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Construction Continues at Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda

So much has been going on at the Kasese Humanist Primary School over in Uganda and it's been awhile since I've posted about it. They've resumed construction after a large private donation and School Director Bwambale Robert has been sending me pictures and updating his excellent school Facebook page.

Due to time constraints, this post will be light on narrative and rather picture heavy.

The most recent construction has been on the vocational center and the freethought library. The vocational center will be used to train people within the school and surrounding community with useful skills. It will have a workshop where transparent sheets will be used on the roof to allow extra sunlight to penetrate into the building. Both will be shuttered, ventilated and concrete flooring will be poured. Like the other buildings, strong metallic doors will be installed to keep vandals out.

Here are some pictures of the freethought library construction.

Inserting brick gables into roof of the new freethought library building. Wooden roof beams are treated against rot.

Newly roofed freethought library building. I believe that's the nursery nextdoor.

Windows and doors installed in front of freethought library building.

If I am not mistaken, this is the back of the freethought library building. Strong shutters are installed to keep vandals out as this wall faces the outer perimeter of the to be walled-in school complex.
Here are some pictures showing how the vocational center and workshop is coming along. Remember, this was added as an extension to the nursery building.

Vocational centre and workshop is an extension of the nursery building.
Interior of the vocational centre and workshop building. You can see the side of the nursery.

Roofing completed on the vocational center. Notice the plastic panels to allow light into the room.

Plastic corrugated roof panels provide nice light into the vocational center's interior. Support beam is temporary.

Shuttered vocational center with metal door.

Closeup of vocational center windows and door.
More finishing work  like coats of paint and floors to come. In the meantime, why not support the school by making a donation to Atheist Alliance International?

Also follow the school's excellent Facebook page which is managed by School Director Bwambale Robert himself.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Construction Resumes at Kasese Humanist Primary School

Vocational centre timbers for the roof in place.
Here's a really short post to pass on the word that construction has resumed on the new site of the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda. This was made possible by a large donation of funds by a private donor.

On a Facebook page update, School Director Bwambale Robert made the following update:
... the work am doing right now aims at finishing up the free thought/computer room and vocational center buildings which have been at wall plate for the past month or so. This exercise is likely to take 2 weeks to have both structures complete and habitable. I have already placed orders for the shutters of the two units, booked the iron sheets. The carpenters have already fixed the roof timbers on the vocational center and are likely to put the iron sheets in 2 days, Plastering works is in progress on the free thought library and tomorrow the Computer room section and library interior will be fully plastered. A provision for sockets and switches have also been placed in the rooms for easy electric installation. More works continue in the next few days.
Awesome news, since the structures were standing roofless for awhile there, which isn't so good for the walls.

You can see more pictures of construction of the vocational centre on the Facebook update itself.  If you are not already following the school Facebook page you should be!

Edit 2014-08-05

Just as I went to press with this, Bwambale released another update on the Facebook page. Go check out this post which includes more information on the construction effort along with some great pictures. Here's my favourite picture of students using one of the newly constructed classrooms at the new Rukoki site. It's nice to see the new facilities in use!

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