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

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!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Recent Developments At Kasese Humanist Primary School

A preacher speaks to the students. At KHPS, students are exposed to as many points of view as possible.
Kasese Humanist Primary School Director, Bwambale Robert, sent me an update a few days ago about what's going on at the school. There are interesting things afoot, including a visit from a local pastor who tried to preach the Good News to the children.
Well, all seems to be moving on well at the school. This being a games and sporting season, as far as the Education Ministry, in regard to the Primary School Curriculum.

Our school has also participated in it and in order to keep our school team fit, we are seriously doing lots of training and engaging our children to host friendly matches with nearby schools. We have met Railway Primary School twice and Aisha Preparatory School once.
KHPS team training at the soccer pitch sporting newly donated jerseys from KidsHeartKids.
The competitions will be held in Nyakasanga Playgrounds on Friday 11th this month, the usual venue for such functions. We remain optimistic that our school netball and football teams perform better. A special thanks goes to KidsHeartKids for spicing up our team and donating balls and sporting jersey for both teams.  In the Friday’s events our school emerged as winners where in Soccer we scored 3 while Aisha Preparatory School scored 1 goal, in netball ours was 14 out of 6 shoot in’s.
Football is, of course, soccer. Netball is a very popular game I've heard of which seems to resemble North American basketball. It seems like a game has already been played last Friday. The school won which now qualifies them for today's game -- which will probably be done by the time I get to post this. Pictured below is likely past Friday's game with Aisha in red. (I cannot help but comment on the name of the school, Aisha, which does have some 'interesting' connotations for me.)

Netball match with Aisha Preparatory School over at old KHPS Railroad location.
Also on Friday was a debate with the topic Have Women or Men Spread HIV/AIDS the Most? Both sides were defended.
Such debates are common at the school as they expose the children to be free to communicate freely, express themselves in front of the audience and attain skills in critical thinking and oral communication. 
This sounds like a pretty heated debate, indeed.

Debate about HIV/AIDS transmission.
Aisha children in their yellow and red school uniforms at debate about HIV/AIDS transmission.
Teacher Joelyne facilitating debate.
Friday was a very busy day for the school, because in the morning hours, just before the Aisha children arrived, a Christian preacher offered to evangelize to the students (see first photo at top).
In the morning hours of Friday before arrival of our visitors, we also received a local pastor who came to the school with an intention to pass on to the children “Good News”.  Such people do come to the school and as it’s a school policy to tolerate people’s beliefs, we do give them a platform. Sometimes others come thinking that we will chase them away and they begin their drama but as free thinkers, we always reason beyond them and speculate what might happen.  We assembled all the children to listen to this young man who addressed them and picked several scripts from the bible. After he had addressed them our children started asking questions which of course were their right to know.
Apparently the questions were too much for the preacher and he left in a sudden.
Unfortunately, some questions were so hard to be answered by the Pastor and in general he failed to answer correctly all the questions. The meeting ended prematurely and as the Pastor was going away he did share some views with the teachers who also blamed the Pastor for his failure to give the children genuine answers that are not biased as we now live in the era of access to information. The Teachers told the Pastor that Kasese Humanist Primary School is one of the few schools that embraces science and believes in Evidence so next time the Pastor surfaces at the school again, he should be in position to back everything he says with evidence.
As for the classroom construction project, which is building a new permanent school for KHPS on land that it owns -- it currently rents -- it is at a standstill until further funds are raised. Three more classrooms are required for the school to meet the national requirements to be considered a valid nursery and primary school.
As with the classroom constructions, work is at a standstill as I wait for more support from my international connections. Work stopped after fencing off the Northern, Western and part of the Southern end. So far on the property, we are remaining with only 3 classrooms to accomplish all the 10 classrooms to cover the Nursery and Primary Section which of course we shall achieve before this year ends. A vocational center, Computer and Free thought  Library, an extra classroom plus the Permanent Poultry coop stand at wall plate and await to be roofed and finished while the school hall awaits for funds yet to come in from Humanist Canada.
You can help by making a donation to Atheist Alliance International. Be sure to select the correct section in the donation form.


If you're Canadian you can support via Humanist Canada. Agan, be sure to select the Ugandan Kasese School radio button on the form.

Student Singa Sharif with camera tripod.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Quick Insight On How A Humanist School Is Perceived In Uganda

Some KHPS students at a recent visit to Red Cross Offices in Kasese. (source)

While in a group email correspondence with Bwambale Robert, Director of the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda, my friend Meredith Doig asked how the school is perceived in the local community. I've been asked similar questions, most recently on the radio programme Ask an Atheist. I'm certain that this question comes up in the minds of quite a few donors given the very religious nature of Uganda and recent documentaries like God Loves Uganda.

So here's Bwambale's response.
The local authorities have no problem with my venture and our existence on the ground because the last four years has been a testing time to evaluate my activity. The perception people had of us when we began has changed from worse to the better as they (at first) thought maybe we posed a danger of derailing the children to immorality. What we have always done is to explain what we are and what we stand for and we have been found to be harmless. One police officer told me that the government was secretly making underground checks on the school but one thing they found with us was that we stood for evidence.  The police officer said that they couldn't close down our school after realizing that we are for science advancement and evidence. However our lack of faith still raises some eyebrows but still this is something they will continue to be gradually accustomed to over time.
I think it brings some insight on a nuanced local situation. The best way to gain acceptance is to come out (if possible) and show the world that you can be good without God.

Remember you can support the school's classroom construction project over at Atheist Alliance International.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Happy World Humanist Day!

(source)
Despite what some friends and acquaintances may claim, I do indeed consider myself human - a condition of which I am sometimes embarrassed. With our long history of bad behaviour and the daily news, it's often rather easy to get down on humanity.

But we've come a really long way though. Out humanity is a good thing and the goodness comes from within. That's why I'm a Humanist Human and that's why June 21st is a good day: World Humanist Day!

There are funds that remain to be raised for the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda, so I'll be spending my Humanist Day trying to make some progress at getting some kind of fundraiser rebooted.  The previous fundraiser platform changed their billing company forcing me to shut down the original fundraiser prematurely - although, $10,000 was raised!  I'll be exploring WordPress themes, so it could result in pretty.

You should also let Google know that this event really deserves a 'doodle!'  If you're on Twitter, it's recommended to post something like this.
Anyway, I hope you do something really human - it a good way, of course.  The IHEU gives some examples of what you can do today and some of the international events.

As Carl Sagan would have said: Happy 'Yew-manism' Day!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Update From Kasese Humanist Primary School

It's been awhile since I posted about how things are going at the Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda. Here are some highlights from a recent email I got from Bwambale Robert, School Director. He also sent some pictures, which are below.

The school now has two campuses, the original Railroad Station campus and the new Rukoki campus which is still under construction but has at least one functional Nursery building on it. In total enrollment is at 356 pupils.

Recently, a representative from the Uganda Red Cross recently visited the school.
Recently at the school we hosted an official from the Uganda Red Cross who encouraged our students to join the Red Cross Society as members and our children were happy to learn that the founder of the Red Cross, Henry Dunant was someone who had similar vision and way of thinking just like Humanists do. Several students at the school have joined the Red Cross and we are proposing to set up a Red Cross club at the school.
Bwambale also shared news about the Poultry Project, which readers of this blog helped build through a fundraiser. It seems the original chickens have gotten a little older and have gone through menopause!
There have been some new developments in regard to the poultry project where the original chickens housed in the coop became off layers and could not lay eggs anymore so we restocked the coop with 70 one month old chickens some weeks ago and these chicks are growing up steadily. KidsHeartKids is currently helping out in periodically sending in funds to aid in purchasing of the feeds. We have been facing a problem of fluctuating poultry feeds prices and this has been straining the school budget. A permanent chicken coop is to be constructed on the school property soon and building materials for this are already at the site.
Ongoing funds are required to maintain the coop and pay for feed. If anyone out there knows of some kind of Patreon type program that allows people to pledge some small amount per month I believe much of these expenses could be taken care of nicely.

The Kasese United Humanist Association (KUHA) owns land which has been transformed into a plantation.
The school plantation in Muhokya is now supporting some corn and cassava plants which are soon to be harvested. The food harvests are utilized at the school in feeding the school staff and a section of children. After milling the corn, the peels or shaves commonly known as brand is mixed with the layers feed to add value and volume on the foods at the disposal of the chickens. 
Bwambale also let me know that KUHA is interested in any possible partnerships with international organizations, private or public, to sustainably develop and utilize land. Obviously, such development would have to be a net positive to KUHA and the local economy.
It should be noted that the Muhokya land is among the big chunks of land owned by KUHA measuring 8 Acres, some other spaces are the Kasese Humanist Botanical Gardens (12 acres), the KHPS permanent home (9 acres) and another prime piece of land in Lyemibuza  (8 acres) overlooking the Queen Elizabeth National Park and Lake George. Kasese United Humanist Association feels great owning these parcels of land, as land is a vital factor of production. These lands are available to be utilized fully to create change in people’s lives and in this regard the organization welcomes either private or organizations interested in setting up joint viable projects on these lands.
Finally, construction continues at the new Rukoki campus at an excellent pace.
As for the classroom construction, work so far on site is promising as all the required 10 classrooms for a fully functional school as per Uganda standard is now reached. Some work on classroom finishing is ongoing.  The vocational workshop, school library/computer room plus an extra classroom still lack roofs and will be finalized upon funds' availability.

Some few weeks back, Atheist Alliance International (AAI) sent in some $2750 to aid in the constructions.  These funds aided us in adding an extra classroom onto the already 3 classrooms attached to the School Hall which also now connected to the school kitchen. The funds were also used for plastering works on the outer side of the school library and vocational workshop.

In an effort to curb trespassers on the KHPS Property, the buildings have been constructed in such a way as to form a perimeter-like fence. Right now, the northern side and the eastern side are sealed off and plans are underway to seal off the western side and put an entrance gate at the southern end.

Thereafter, general finishing work, painting and walkways will be embarked on. At some point all the classrooms will be fitted with electricity from our house one which is electrified. 
A giant school logo will be crafted on the wall beside the gate and Humanist Principles for a rational world will be written on the southern wall.
Exciting times! Remember, more funds are required for the school to be completed. Right now, the target move date from the old campus to the new one is January 2015. Once this is done, rent will no longer be paid at the old location and, with construction mostly complete, more funds will be available for day to day operations. Until then, you can help the construction by sharing the word and with the links below!

• Atheist Alliance International at http://atheistalliance.org/support-aai/donate

• Humanist Canada at http://humanistcanada.ca/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=3

And here are some pictures Bwambale sent me of the work.

Back view of KHPS.