Showing posts with label uganda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label uganda. Show all posts

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

BiZoHa Orphanage - 'With Science We Can Progress!'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donations can be made easily at 

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

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

Thursday, 30 April 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 3 April 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I suggest you follow the above Facebook pages!

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!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Interview With Founder of 'World's First Atheist Orphanage'

Five days ago, Hank Pellissier from the Brighter Brains Institute -- at which I'm an honorary fellow -- sent me information about an ambitious new project he was fundraising for. He is teaming up with Bwambale Robert, Director of the Kasese Humanist Primary School to build the world's First Atheist Orphanage in strongly religious Uganda.

I'll admit that at the time I was too wiped to check it out the piece he included in his email by VICE writer Zoltan Istvan, a futurist transhumanist who is also a fellow at Brighter Brains. (Note that this organization is open to both religious and atheist contributors so there is a fair bit of what many would consider woo. However, they have done excellent work in Uganda.)

You can find the GoFundMe fundraiser page for the new orphanage here.

A few days later, Hemant Mehta picked up the story on his Friendly Atheist blog. Although he was open to the idea of a secular orphanage, there was something about the active promotion of atheist values which rubbed him the wrong way.
"Pellissier, who considers himself open to spirituality, says that orphans who are religious will be welcomed into the orphanage. But the education, culture, and emphasis will be on an atheist and secular experience."

I hope this is just a case of sloppy journalism and that they mean the education and culture the kids receive just won’t be religious in nature… but if they’re crossing the line into actively teaching kids that God doesn’t exist, I’d feel very uncomfortable telling anyone to support them. If Christians did something similar, we’d call it brainwashing. Even though I agree with the Humanists on the God issue, it’s something the children must figure out for themselves.

Teach them how to ask questions. Teach them to respect the scientific method. But don’t teach them to reject God before they’re old enough to fully understand how religion works.

Atheists can help these kids without pressuring them to adopt a non-religious stance themselves.

The crowdfunding campaign page is here if you’re interested. I have no plans to make a donation.
This made for some colourful and energetic exchange on the comments section. I shared some of Hemant's concerns and so contacted Bwambale Robert to ask some follow up questions. You'll find the interview below.

I can see this possibly being a sort of rift issue in the atheist and Humanist community as it grows and increases its ability to provide education, child care and even healthcare to groups in need across the world. How much should we encourage the questioning of religion and normalize or even champion atheism within highly dependant and vulnerable groups?

Is it acceptable if the orphanage founders have as one of their mission goals the reduction of religion -- otherwise known as an increase in atheism? I would say yes, but many might consider this too much like religious orphanages with goals to indoctrinate kids. These people might only see organizations like Doctors Without Borders as being an acceptable model.

Meanwhile, for those who do see religion (read: superstitious belief) as part of the problem, goals to reduce its grip on younger generations may seem noble. It would then boil down to how secularism is actually implemented and how open and free critical thinking and unfettered exploration of ideas is encouraged. Are children with religious beliefs still respected or is atheist dogma forced upon them?

Of course, from an outside observer -- when the rubber hits the pavement -- a properly secularly run orphanage is indistinguishable from an atheist freethinker orphanage, regardless of anyones motives or personal religious beliefs. Religious and non-religious both can do secularism.

Except for one thing. Unlike any other orphanage, when a child or parent asks a caretaker a question in confidence about a god, the answer here will be unique. Those working at this institution will be the first in the country to not be afraid to honestly answer, as atheists, that there is not evidence for a god; that they are atheists and that's Okay -- they are still good people. I wonder how often these words are spoken in a country like Uganda.

Now, without further ado, the interview. This was done informally over email and Bwambale's mother tongue is not English. Aside for a couple of very minor corrections, I left the responses intact.

1) Describe the primary goal of this new orphanage and what sets it apart from other orphanages in the region.
To improve lives of orphaned children in our community through allowing them have access to the basics of life and enjoy a better life like the rest of children.

What sets it apart from other orphanages is that its foundation is secular in nature where we shall allow children to grow freely without any dogma or indoctrination whether Atheism, Humanism or religion.

We shall however expose the children to the scientific method where we shall enlighten them on the usefulness of science in attempting to improve life on this planet. We plan to promote evidence based learning in compliance our government policy of promoting science and technology in combating global challenges.

Children from our orphanage will be well versed with ideas from anything that might come across their minds ranging from religion, religions, our universe and what is beyond. We shall emphasize a lot on promoting critical thinking.

There will be no worshiping of any religion, performing rituals or orphans putting on holy signs as done in religious based orphanages but we shall try as much as we can to respect their religions and if the children so wish will be allowed to practice their beliefs in nearby places of worship but not at the orphanage - On this point, we shall be available to defend ourselves why such practices are not considered important.
2) How old will these children be?
Orphans into the orphanage will not be more than 18 years. Only vulnerable orphans will be considered after thorough screening. We will try as much to keep the numbers low but we shall try help out other orphans outside the orphanage access education or skills training at the orphanage.
3) Will there be religious instruction of any kind? Will there be any discussion of atheism? If so, how will religions and atheism be presented?
There will be No religious instruction of any kind, yes, there will always be a discussion on Atheism, Religion, Humanism, Free thought and Science.

Religion will be analyzed on comparative terms as they are so many and children should have a right to information. The same goes to Atheism, Humanism or Science.

All in all, we shall not be recommending children to take to any side like most religious founded orphanages do but will be up to the orphans to make decisions of their own when they grow up.
4) If a child professes their faith in a God or religion, how would the caretakers react?
If a child professes their belief in a god or gods, we shall not stop him or her. It will be there right to choose what to believe in.
5) If a child asks if God or religion is true, how would the caretakers answer?
If a child asks if God or religion is true, we shall simply say, we don’t know because we have no tangible evidence that proves he or she exists, we are not even sure whether god is male or female or both. Keeping that side, there is existence of multiples of god so far invented and so it might be very hard for one to know which god you are talking about.

On the side of religion, it remains the same story as there exists very many religions, some believing in one god and divided still, while others believe in other gods and each religion claiming to be the most right with a ticket to heaven or eternity. The same explanation applies. It will however be a greater task for us to enlighten children about the different types of religions we have all over the world.
6) Will the orphanage use the word 'atheist' in its name in Uganda? If so, is there any danger incurred to caretakers or children for using this word?
The orphanage name is BiZoHa, its an acronym of 3 personalities who have done commendable work in the world of charity, am actually the one who proposed that name, i decided it as i wanted a neutral orphanage that will welcome people from all walks of life whether you are a believer or non believer. 
7) How does instruction at this orphanage differ than the school?
The Orphanage will be no different from the stand and vision of Kasese Humanist Primary School, as usual no dogma, no indoctrinations with an element of religious tolerance.
8) Now that the fundraising goal has been met, where will the orphanage be situated physically and how close will it be to the school? Has the building been constructed yet?
The orphanage will be situated in Muhokya along Mpondwe - Fort Portal road, a distance of 10 Kilometers from the KHPS Main campus at Railway and 15 Kilometers from the KHPS Permanent home in Rukoki, Kasese District.

Constructions of the orphanage commences on April 15 this year. We are beginning with a dormitory to house 15 orphans and will be supervised by a caregiver with good reputation. Other buildings on the orphanage site will be constructed in the future as funds permit.

At the orphanage, we plan to put some classes for learning to help out orphans there access education but this will be strengthened in the course of the year, we plan also to put in vocational skills training to help out vulnerable youth acquire skills to pave their way to economic self reliance.
9) What are the next steps for moving forward with the orphanage? How can people get more information on this? How can they help?
Next step for moving forward with the orphanage requires full support of this noble project, it does not matter whether you are religious, Atheist, Humanist or Non believer, the concern here is to rescue the orphans so that they get chance to live meaningful decent lives.

More information about the orphanage can be sourced out by following the Brighter Brains Institute website for updates. You can send your donation through their website. People can be of help by donating finances generously to this cause via the Brighter Brains Institute USA.

Spreading the message about the orphanage to friends and families on social networks.
Liaising with us by holding fundraising drives in your respective areas in support of BiZoHa Orphanage.

Choosing to volunteer at the orphanage and get chance to motivate the orphans that they are very important in nation building.
10) are there any other concerns -- specifically from the article at Friendly Atheist and its comments -- you would like to address?
I thank Hemant Mehta of being concerned by making a simple write up on the orphanage on his blog however i was almost turned off when he came out with a title saying that he can’t donate to this orphanage. I guess the word First Atheist Orphanage was the catchment word that turned off most readers, as friends in the struggle for secularism, those were his opinions but i think he rushed to air out that, i know some people in the free thought world are not comfortable with the tag Atheist..... This has to stop.

We all don’t subscribe to fairies, fables or myths and i think we should all unite and support causes of this nature. The plight of Orphans in Uganda needs attention and we as people of no belief, we have a role to play in saving this.

Most of the concerns on the Friendly Atheist Blog were attended to by myself, i realized there was lots of concerns aired out which is good and very important. Your comments were eye openers.

Like I said, we are breaking the monopoly that religious people alone have no right to own orphanages, people with no belief also care about orphans. I think this will send a signal to religious people that we are not sitting back when we see some injustices committed in the name of religion; we have had of pedophile priests, pastors defiling children, children made to do hard labor, children being molested or abused.

At BiZoHa Orphanage, we shall try our level best to protect the orphans from these upheavals, we shall try to expose them to the world view where they will be made to understand better the world around them, how to be morally upright, how to think big and be beneficial to developing ourselves to mention but a few.

On this platform, i thank very much Sean McGuire for being concerned to ask me these questions and will try my best to ensure this orphanage is on track and in line with the mission and goals of Kasese Humanist Primary School.

With Science, we can progress.

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.
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.
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.
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)


(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!

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)


(Directed Donation at bottom of page.)

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Help Uganda Single Mothers Help Themselves

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

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

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Pellesier Science Laboratory to Open at Kasese Humanist Primary School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(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)
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)


(Directed Donation at bottom of page.)

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