Sustainable humanism: an update from Uganda and the Philippines

  • post Type / Growth and Development
  • Date / 2 June 2020

Humanists are stronger when working together to achieve a common set of goals, but the lack of funding and resources is still a huge obstacle to achieving success, especially in developing countries. Every year Humanists International supports the projects of dozens of humanist organizations all around the world. Here is an update from three of them.

Last year we awarded Humanist Development Grants (£10,000 each) to three humanist organizations in developing countries:

The goal of all Humanists International’s grants is to empower our Members and Associates “to be more effective, resilient, and sustainable”, as stated in Humanists International’s 2018-2020 Strategy Document.

In one word, we want our Members and Associates to be “successful”. Despite the problems related to the COVID-19 crisis, this approach is working and we are receiving great feedback from our grantees.

Payira Bonnie, President of Humanists in Northern Uganda

Payira Bonnie, President of Humanists in Northern Uganda, said, for example:

“This grant has greatly helped humanists in Northern Uganda to build capacity to connect with many skeptics, atheists, humanists and freethinkers in Northern Uganda. With the grant, we have managed to train teachers in our humanist school, introduced them to the humanist ethos, and I know this will go a long way in building a more humanist community. A training was organized for the Executive Committee to build strong and independent leadership, we have managed to pay for radio talk shows, workshops, purchased a printer, camera and printed tear drops and pull up banners to increase our visibility within the country.

“This approach worked and has increased the number of our members. All this has been possible because of the grant awarded to Humanists in Northern Uganda by Humanists International. COVID-19 has inconvenienced the project activities since most of our activities involve gathering of people, but our next move is to start strong humanist groups and skeptic clubs in districts and universities.”

Edwin during the recording of one episode of the Vlog series

Edwin Bulaclac Jr, Chief Finance Officer and Head of Branding of HAPI, said:

“The support of Humanists International is enabling our organization to reach a wider audience for the twenty-first century. Our main endeavour is The YouManist Project, an online platform based in YouTube which aims to diffuse secular humanist ideals online, targeting the younger Filipino generations in particular.

“Our team is engaging with all active and would-be chapters of HAPI disseminated in various regional locations in the Philippine archipelago’s 7,641 islands. We want to mobilize members, to get them more involved in face-to-face meet ups and to foster discussions on how to better promote humanist ideals among themselves. 

“As an added bonus to the Vlog series, we have also interviewed humanist Filipino personalities under the YouTube Channel’s “A Collection of Humanist Stories” special feature.”

Joseph Lukyamuzi, Chairperson of HALEA Uganda

Joseph Lukyamuzi, Chairperson of HALEA Uganda, said:

“We are grateful for the support given to HALEA in regard to the legalization of humanist marriages in Uganda. We started the project in September 2019 by putting in place the equipment and general infrastructure needed to prepare our team to popularise humanist ceremonies in the country.

“We have created a website specifically for the ceremonies, trained celebrants, made banners and brochures, run some adverts through local radio and group messages. We have also written a petition and collected signatures from over 417 people supporting the legalization of Humanist Marriages in Uganda.

“We have also served the petition to relevant stakeholders including commissioners at Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB), Ministry of Justice, the speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, Equal Opportunities Parliamentary Committee, etc.

“We are now waiting for feedback from the relevant authorities. In the meantime, we shall continue publicizing humanist ceremonies, also celebrating mock ceremonies.”

Giovanni Gaetani, Membership Engagement Manager, said:

“We are proud to see our Members and Associates all around the world doing their best to keep pursuing their goals despite the global COVID-19 crisis. We had to make some adjustments to our original grant scheme, and some awarded projects had to be cancelled unfortunately, but it is great to see the level of humanist resilience shown by our Member and Associates during this pandemic.

“Members and Associates willing to organise online meetings and seminars can apply for a grant (of up to £200) under the Café Humaniste Online series. The first step is to send me an email ([email protected]) with your proposal, so that we can agree on the theme and the logistics of the event.

“We hope that this online series will help our Members and Associates to keep their humanist communities united during the lockdown, while we all wait to return to normality.”

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