Posted: Wed, February 08, 2017 | By: Humanism & Atheism
2016 Annual Report
Brighter Brains Institute (BBI) was extremely active in 2016. We continued to build, support, “convert” and promote humanist schools, clinics, and orphanages in western Uganda, plus we provided start-up funds and micro-loans to groups and individuals, money for fistula operations, support for a Kampala LGBT group, and the launch of a Humanist Center.
2016 was BBI’s best-ever year for fundraising and we enjoyed numerous successes, but we also endured several failures. The year was a fantastic “learning experience” - instructing us in what we can,and cannot do, in our efforts to aid western Ugandans.
This annual report will review the year via examination of each school we have supported (plus other projects), concluding with a strategy plan for 2017.
BiZoHa Orphanage Humanist School - This project, launched by BBI in 2015, has been a steady, wonderful success. BiZoHa was gifted in early 216 with a shiny red tractor that has been rented out to local farmers, generating significant funds for the school and orphans. Enrollment has been satisfying; there are 190 students and 16 orphans, despite protests from local clerics that the staff and faculty are “Iluminati” and the pupils are “possessed by demons.” Bwambale Robert Musubaho - the school’s director - has countered these attacks with radio broadcasts and an Anti-Superstition campaign, funded by BBI. The school enjoys significant on-going support from 80+ BBI donors who provide $125 annually to sponsor Day Scholars, and $250 per annum to sponsor orphans. BiZoHa’s faculty has been aided by BBI-supported microloans of $500 each to support their side businesses, and the school receives regular gifts, such as books, from BBI contributors. BiZoHa enjoys high visibility because it is situated on a main road connecting Kasese to the Congo border; BBI receives inquiries from travelers who notice the “Humanist” sign by the highway. Summary: Very successful. We’d like to see enrollment reach 22 students, and we’d like to see produce and beverages sold at the Andrea Vogt Roadside Stand. We commend BiZoHa for their enthusiastic combat agains the clerics; their activities in this make them a role model for our other humanist schools.
Kasese Humanist Primary School (KHPS) - BBI can only claim minor credit for this school’s accomplishments, because KHPS has been operating since 2009, long before out involvement. BBI provides a health clinic and (a few) Day Scholar sponsorships. Our largest 2015 assistance to the school came in December 2016 when we campaigned to raise funds to build Kasese Humanist Secondary School (KHSS) on the same property. We provided enough money (with Humanist Canada) to build 4 new classrooms and a latrine. KHSS opened in February 2017 with small enrollment; we anticipate improvement in those numbers. Summary: The Kasese Humanist School is very successful, and now it is expanding. BBI’s support is helpful, especially in construction of the secondary school. For 2017, we’d like to see higher enrollment in the secondary school - up to 100, at least - and we’d like KHPS to achieve some acclaim for its academic excellence.
Kahendero Humanist School and Jane Shrimpton Clinic - Funds were raised for this humanist outpost in a Lake George village in early 2015. Enrollment in the initial nursery school started small, just 24-30 students. The clinic has been extremely popular (due largely to the village’s high-risk lifestyle) and its been featured on Kenyan TV. Special programs are offered at the clinic on topics like “Getting Out of Prostitution” and “How to Avoid Fistula,” and we’ve provided very-needed condoms to the locals. In January 2017, director Bwambale Robert Musubaho began building more classrooms to expand it into a primary school. BBI is assisting this effort. Summary: High marks for the clinic. We’d like to see the primary school enrollment reach 200 pupils, and we’d like the school to be self-sustaining, via business ventures like the BBI-funded Social Hall, and fishing boat.
Nyakiyumbu Widows Orphanage Humanist School - This remote school near the Congo border has been assisted by BBI for three years. Our efforts here include a clinic, funds to build a classroom, teacher salary support, food, clothes, and a scholarship program that sends high-achievement Nyakiyumbu students KHPS. Bwambale Robert Musubaho serves as a friend and mentor to this school, occasionally assisting them with projects and instructing them in humanism. BBI’s support for Nyakiyumbu is occasionally hampered by poor communication - they might not email back regularly, and they are often slow in completing projects - they’re still finishing construction of a classroom they received funds for 5 months ago. Nyakiyumbu’s current needs are fresh water and salary support for teachers. Summary: We are committed to maintaining the clinic, and we recently gave them funding for a “Grasshopper Trap.” In general, we’d like them to evidence more understanding of humanism, and we’d like them to complete the classroom. The want “project money” for a piggery and fresh water, but their slowness in previous tasks suggests they are a less-tab-ideal candidate for larger, more expensive endeavors.
Buhanga Women / Mother Givers Humanist School - Buhanga, a village of 2,000 in the Ruwenzori Mountain foothills, has been a 2016 happy success story. Our projects there are very ably directed by maskers Sebastian, the Secretary of the Buhanga Thuligahuma Women’s Associaton. He is a sincere humanist and a conscientious administrator; all BBI projects with Buhanga are promptly enacted, swiftly reported on, with excellent photo documentation. BBI provided Buhanag, in 2016, with a clinic, two classrooms, a girls changing room, orphan sponsorships, a lunch food program with chicken and goat meat, a 3-kilometer pipeline that brought fresh water to the village, 490 chickens, with feeder, drinkers, grain and vaccinations, a website (BuhangaWomen.org) a micro-loan program that assists women growing pumpkins, passion fruit, and other crops, plus we’ve regularly supplied AFRIpads, condoms, teacher salaries, and mosquito nets. In late 2015, Meredith Newman Debens, a BBI supporter from Australian, organized a “Friends of Buhanga” group with fellow Aussies that operates entirely dependent of BBI - this group has supplied Buhanga with solar lamps, books, tree saplings, mosquito nets, and many other gifts. Summary: Buhanga is BBI’s most successful “Humanist Conversion” project. Its evolution in one year from zero funding to near-sustainability serves as a role model for how we’d like other schools to advance.
Garama Secondary Humanist School / MIWODIF - Garama approached BBI in early 2016, informing us they’d like to be humanist, primarily for feminist reasons. (to stop wife-beating, secure equal rights for women, giving women family planning control, provide condoms, sex education, girls education, etc.). BBI responded, and we’ve helped them enormously, with a Joycelyn Elders Clinic (with funding for 3 years), plus funds for food, AFRIads, a Piggery Project, teaching salaries, a website, orphan sponsorships, and - in early 2017 - funds for a clean water project, a passion fruit project, and a women’s humanist conference. Communication hasn’t always been smooth — Garama has switched directors, has twice provided inaccurate banking information, and needs regular reminders to send photos and documentation. Garama has, however, been an extremely helpful and enthusiastic promoter of humanism, and they located fistula patients for BBI to assist. In February 2017, Garama informed BBI that they will receive over $30,000 in funding from other sources, including the American Embassy and a British foundation. Summary: Garama has been a big success, and an occasional headache. Most importantly, they’ve informed us that humanism can be embraced by Ugandan feminism. In 2017, BBI doesn’t need to help Garama as significantly - we’ve already provided clinic funds for 3 years, and they have several other sources of income. Also - we originally partnered with them because they were the only humanist secondary school inner circle; now that Kasese Humanist Secondary School is built, it is better for us to persuade local adolescents to attend KHSS, due to its superior academics.
Kanyenze Humanist Primary School - This small school (125 students) has been BBI’s only successful “conversion” to humanism in Kyarumba, a market town of 10,000 inhabitants in the Ruwenzori foothills. Kanyenze is ably-directed by the Kayenze Women’s Group, led my Loice Ngunguro. Bib has given Kanyenze a clinic, food, AFRIpads, teacher salaries, and orphan sponsorships, plus a Motorcycle Repair Shop that is intended to support both the clinic and the lunch program. In January 2017, funds were also raised to provide piping for a Kanyenze clean water project. Summary: BBI is very pleased with Kanyenze’s stalwart alliance with humanism, and their quick response to questions and documentation. We’re not certain that the Motorcycle Repair Shop will generate the expected funds; this makes us reluctant to support further project proposals that exceed $1,000. All-in-all, we’re happy with Kanyenze though, especially since they’re so much more reliably than the other Kyarumba schools.
Rays of Light Orphanage School - BBI has funded this Kyarumba school for three years, and visited twice. We have consistently provided funds for a clinic, plus food, books, AFRIpads, and a large number of orphan sponsorships. The school was previously Anglican, so we were happy when they ousted church members from the Board and asked us to join us as humanists. We agreed, but the school has problems - a BBI volunteer there reported regular child abuse at the school, (whipping them with sticks, throwing rocks at them) and the new director seemed more intent on gaining BBI funds than he was on living up to his promises. BBI did fund a Maize Grinder for the school, that was intended to provide income for both the lunch program and the clinic, and we provide funds to build a classroom. Unfortunately, the classroom has not been completed, and the Maize Grinder isn’t functioning as profitably or as reliably, as we were assured it would. The main consistencies are that Rays of Light is enthusiastic about humanism, and they continue to ask BBI for more and more money. Summary: We have downgraded our support for this school, and taken “humanism” out of its title. We continue to provide funds to it through orphan sponsorship, and we’re pleased that they communicate quickly and support humanism. We will be happier with this school when the classroom construction we paid for is finished, and the Maize Grinder is making the money it should. All-in-all, a large-sized disappointment.
Vision Care School - This large (250+ pupils) has been closely supported by BBI for three years. We’ve given them a clinic, plus AFRIpads, teacher salaries, and orphan sponsorships, PLUS - we’ve provided them with an expensive lunch program from the very beginning. A BBI volunteer to the region, Aaron Silver-Pell, said Vision Care was his favorite school in Kyarumba, because they were kind to the students. Unfortunately, there are serious drawbacks. Vision Care switches leadership occasionally, and none of the leaders seems to have an aptitude for business. BBI examined numerous weak proposals from them; finally we decided to give them five boda-bodas (motorcycles) to rent out, to pay for the food program and clinic. Vision Care has failed to finish building a classroom we provided funds for, and they are unwilling to defend humanism from attacks by the town clerics. Summary: Vision Care was called a “humanist” school for several months, but we’ve taken away that categorization, due to their inability to finish building a classroom, and, more importantly, their total unwillingness to defend humanism. BBI is not committed to supporting them in the future, but we have given them enough motorcycles, in our opinion, to be self-sustaining. Discontinuing our support is an unhappy reality, especially since they are kind to their students.
Mughete Junior School - A large public school in Kyarumba that we’ve supported for 1.5 years. We provided them with a clinic, and orphan sponsorships, furniture, and a classroom that appears unfinished. Mughete hasn’t received any BBI project grants because they couldn’t think of any ideas except goats. BBI determined goats were not a good investment; Mughete declined to send us any other ideas. Mughete is also very weak at maintaining constant communication. We have asked for photo proof - for months - that the classroom is finished, it has never been provided. We’ve also heard reports that there is child abuse at the school, and Mughete has not raised its voice to defend humanism in Kyarumba. Summary: Another Kyarumba failure. BBI is continuing to support the clinic there, but we will probably discontinue that in 3-6 months, especially if the classroom remains unfinished.
St. Thomas Nursery School - BBI has provided a clinic to this school for 3 years, plus occasional food. Although we are displeased with the Anglican Church’s directives against homosexuality, and condom use, and abortion, and humanism, we recognize that these are adult actions, and the “children shouldn’t be punished.” BBI has a Christian donor who wants to support the clinic; if they ever discontinue support, we won’t actively seek another sponsor. Summary: BBI is happy to help these children combat malaria, malnutrition, and respiratory illnesses.
St. Luke’s Nursery School - An Anglican school that BBI provided clinic funds to for 2 years. We discontinued support of this school in December 2016, due to displeasure with the Anglican Church’s edicts against homosexuality, and their taboos against condoms. The Anglican minister in this town also criticizes humanism. Summary: BBI has no plans to reinstate support for this school.
Bwethe School - This Catholic school high in the mountains had a BBI-funded clinic for one year, plus we supplied them with books, food, educational materials, soccer balls and an electric piano. After that, we enlisted the Mormon Transhumanist Association (MTA) to maintain the clinic for one year. MTA has recently announced their plan to discontinue sponsorship. BBI won’t be helping Bwethe again, except if we visit in person - if we hike up there we will give them food. Summary: Bwethe is a lovely little village, but it is very poor, and its “not their fault” their only school is Catholic - not even the Ugandan government will build a school in this remote area. BBI has considered buying land and building a humanist school in the town, but the cost is too expensive, and we’re not sure the students would enroll anyway. We have discovered that religion is strongest in the very isolated rural areas, and we have a limited capacity to fight this.
Kabingo and St. Michael’s - Very high up in the mountains, past Bwethe, are these two extremely impoverished communities - that have Anglican schools. BBI has established clinics here, and provided occasional food, blankets, and educational supplies. We don’t approve of their religiosity, but they’re so isolated - its a valid excuse. Plus they’re terrifically poor. Summary: BBI will probably maintain clinics here, and will try to send more blankets to this cold region. We’ve considered building a humanist school, but the construction cost is expensive, and the schools would be sparsely attended.
BiZoHa Humanist Center and Volunteer Hostel - BBI is very excited that a Humanist Center is being constructed near BiZoHa, in the town of Muhokya, on a main road with high visibility. The center will offer wifi access, computer and digital camera rental, humanist books, a cafe, a conference meeting place, and - perhaps most importantly - a “Volunteer Hostel” for visitors who want to be instructors and helpers, or just observers, at the Kasese humanist schools. This project will be competed by March 2017.
FARUG - Freedom and Roam Uganda is a Kampala-based organization that supports LGBT activities. BBI raised $500 for FARUG via a San Francisco fundraiser. We might do this again, once a year.
Fistula Operations - Garama Secondary Humanist School located women who needed fistula operations, with BBI sponsors providing the funds for the $400 operation. We anticipate doing this on a regular basis - several more operations are scheduled for 2017.
Science Missionary Project - This campaign, launched in late 2016, gained significant success. Two of its goals - Clean Water and Science Education - were enthusiastically funded; another goal, to build an eco-briquette press - was also realized. A fourth objective - solar energy - might be obtained in 2017 if a high school teacher in California provides “solar notebooks” to BBI members traveling to Uganda.
2017 STRATEGY PLAN
BBI’s goals in 2017 are very different than our 2016 plans. In 2016, we wanted to expand humanism to other schools in the region, we did this with some success, especially at Mother Givers School in Buhanga, Garama Secondary School, and Kanyenze Primary School. We failed, however, in other locales, especially in the village of Kyarumba.
We aren’t going to work at “converting” any more schools in the rural regions in 2017. Instead, we will focus on making our humanist schools provide the best education possible to their enrollees. This means guaranteeing high-quality health care, nutritious lunches, excellent teachers, and smart learning supplies. We’d also like to make each of the schools self-sustaining.
Ideally, we’d like to see our humanist schools gain recognition for academic excellence. We are hoping to send volunteer teachers; they can stay at the new Volunteer Hostel in Muhokya. We’d like to see the humanist primary school graduates attend our humanist secondary schools, we’d like to see the secondary schools offer vocational skills that guarantee employment, and we’d love to see more of the humanist secondary graduates attend colleges.
In fundraising, we’d like to expand our donor base to include teachers and librarians and scientists, and we’d like to set up sub-groups to help each school, similar to the wonderful “Friends of Buhanga” that raises funds for Mother Givers Humanist School. We’d like to expand our partnerships to form tighter relations with Canadian groups. plus set up links to humanists in Italy, and the UK.