After a year filled with planning, fundraising, construction, and recruiting we are pleased to announce that the school has opened its doors this week and welcomed the first-ever students to the Bizoha Campus of the Kasese Humanist Primary School!
The weeks leading up to the opening were very busy as the nursery block, with classrooms funded by Davida LeCompt, Pegasystems, and Dr. Bruce Chou, was completed and given a cheery paint job.
Through use of some of the additional funding received for 2016 from our generous supporters Leo and Karen Zelevinsky, we were able to add additional latrines and secure the site with brick fencing works around the nursery school yard and the entire campus perimeter, complete with security gates and signage.
The front gate and road signs proudly proclaim that we are a Humanist campus that stands out from the crowd for promoting a secular world view. We welcome children and staff from all beliefs and backgrounds. We have recruited competent and experienced teachers and we are confident that through active work and determination our learners are going to get balanced education that is free from dogma and indoctrination. The school will also have humanism and vocational lessons. We have nine full time teachers plus three others who will teach music, dance and drama, carpentry and tailoring.
Also opening is the on-site Andrea Vogt Health Clinic! We have hired a medic who will provide basic health care to the students and community. The much-needed 1000x microscope for diagnostic use was donated by Byong Park, and we have received donations from a few of our kind orphan sponsors each funding a week's worth of needed medicines and supplies. We are still seeking a sponsor for the medics salary, along with additional donations large or small to cover costs for supplies and medications. If you are interested in helping, please see our Donations page.
We have hired a School Bursar to handle financial matters as in collections and expenditures at the school. Generous scholar sponsorships have poured in from humanitarians around the globe to provide the tuition funding for a total of 84 needy and orphaned children, that count is including both our day scholars and hostel orphans. The hostel children have moved into their quarters, and we have our matron, cook and security guards on staff.
There are 111 children enrolled in school as of Day 2 operating, and we expect this number will grow to possibly 200 students within a few weeks. We will share images of the children and instructional areas in the coming days as they get settled into the environment, so please stay tuned for that. Uniforms are being sewn and distributed. All in all, it is a busy time!
Many thanks to all of our kind benefactors worldwide for making this secular humanist education possible for so many children in the community of Muhokya in the beautiful Rwenzori region of Kasese Province, Uganda.
Our first order from Scholastic is shaping up to be a big one! Kind supporters of Bizoha have donated almost $1,400 worth of books to our Library so far -- Donations of books totaling $1,150 have generated rewards for an additional $230 in free books.
The opportunity to place orders will remain open until January 31. Books will then be shipped to Bizoha, arriving around February 10. School opens on February 22, and we will post photographs of the children enjoying their incredible new library of titles.
There is an excellent assortment of books coming our way! Pictured below are the books selected so far. We have very few duplicates -- although in fact we would not mind duplicates at all. We will have 10 classrooms to spread the books among. Within a class, teachers and students may find it helpful indeed to have several copies of a reference book; multiple copies of a story may be used in a small reading group; and friends would enjoy checking out the same title to share their pleasure in reading. So please do not worry about duplicate purchases. We will get feedback from the teachers on what is useful and popular for future orders.
Here is what we've got coming so far:
Response has been fabulous, and we are touched and grateful at the outpouring of support. We can't wait to get the children connected with the books, and share pictures of the excitement. Your generosity and caring will truly change the lives of children.
If you'd like to add to the collection of books arriving before the start of our first term, please make sure to order by January 31. Thank you!
Brighter Brains Institute is pleased to announce that we have begun raising funds to establish a new humanist preschool in Kahendero - a small fishing village on the shores of Lake George, adjacent to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The preschool will be situated on 2.5 acres of property owned by Bwambale Robert Musubaho. Bwambale will be the director of the new school; he’s also the director of Kasese Humanist Primary School (10 miles away) and BiZoHa Orphanage School (two miles away in Muhokya).
Now that funding for BiZoHa is largely complete, BBI is embarking on the Kahendero project, to further its ambition to spread secular thinking in western Uganda. The budget is $8,768.76 - this includes 3 classrooms, a kitchen, a clinic, and a 4-stance pit latrine. We already have a generous sponsor of $1,200 for one classroom, which will be announced further once we have a classroom name and are closer to starting construction.
The new location, Kahendero, while idyllically set between two wondrous natural areas, is a largely dysfunctional community afflicted by with myriad social problems - crime, drugs, pollution, disease, gambling, prostitution, alcoholism, and illiteracy. We have hopes of improving the community and the lives of its residents with our investment and involvement.
Among the pioneer orphans at BiZoHa we have two from Kahendero who live in the hostel. The new location will not be an orphanage, only a nursery school for 3-5 year olds. We will make it a priority to offer orphans free breakfast and lunch if funds allow. When they reach primary school age, they may attend the Bizoha Primary School that is two miles away. As for the number of orphans, Kahendero has scores and scores of them. If we can increase the hostel capacity at BiZoHa Orphanage then some orphans may also come to live at the hostel when they are older.
In addition to the nursery school we plan to open a health clinic. Common diseases in Kahendero are bilharzia, malaria,cholera, HIV/AIDS, influenza, kwashiokor , marasmus, TB, sexually transmitted diseases, typhoid etc. The transmission rate of HIV/AIDS is very high at the fishing village. Our clinic will try to provide free HIV testing and counseling, condoms and femine products which are hard to come by in the area. We would also provide free anti malarial drugs and medical drill lessons on personal hygiene to the Kahendero community. This would make our clinic there very unique.
Our goal is to improve the health, education and opportunities of these children as well as to spread the message of Humanism in this very superstitious area -- teaching the children and families to value science, logic and reason and to embrace the humanist values we promote at Bizoha.
If you would like to help, please see our Donate page to take action!
As the final preparations for the new school year are underway, we were very pleased to receive generous funding for two more solar panels for the site, funded by Scott Furciniti and Melanie Carver. These solar panels will be used to light our classrooms with the abundant free energy from the sun that is available at our campus situated right on the equator.
We have also received funding for a solar refrigerator, which will help enable business at our roadside stand. Our plan is to sell cool, refreshing drinks and snack items on this busy roadway. This will provide a source of income for Bizoha, helping to make the orphanage self-sustaining. A kind donation from Patrick Ketaner makes the purchase of this solar refrigerator possible. Powered by the sun, there will never be any electrical costs to run it.
Many individuals have sponsored desks for the children and the students, and construction of those items is underway now. They are being built right at the Bizoha campus. We are very grateful for the generosity of all the donors who have made these items possible for our campus. We are still seeking donations for student desks, teacher desks, and chalkboards for our ten classrooms. As you can see work is well underway and we will be ready to open the new school year on February 22, right after the Ugandan presidential elections taking place in early February that is delaying the start of the school year across the country.
We did it! As a community, we came together in 2015 and supported (whether financially or in spirit) the construction of an entire campus at BiZoHa Humanist Orphanage and Primary School. What a wonderful accomplishment!
Bwambale Robert Musubaho has been a busy man, turning in an unfaltering and outstanding job of managing the construction project, the hiring, the farm, the sponsorships and arrival of the orphans to the hostel in September. He posts updates with lots of construction photos several times each week to the facebook page, showing great stewardship of the funds that have been so generously shared by you, our enthusiastic supporters.
This week, the final three classrooms constructions are underway. Our grateful thanks go out to these latest construction sponsors:
Dr. Bruce Chou Classroom #2 is sponsored by Dr. Bruce Chou, who was also our very first classroom sponsor. Dr. Chou, an anesthesiologist from California, demonstrated great faith in the project and the people behind it when the first classroom was constructed back in May, and we were delighted when he again offered funding for one of our final classrooms this month.
The Pegasystems Classroom is sponsored by Pegasystems, Inc., headquartered in Cambridge, MA and the leading provider of business process management (BPM) and customer relationship management (CRM) software solutions. We are pleased, proud and grateful to have this STEM company sponsoring a classroom at BiZoHa.
The final classroom sponsorship comes from Davida LeComte of Montreal, Canada. She has been a generous supporter and sponsor throughout the year, and we were excited to hear from her this week and welcomed her significant donation of a classroom and some additional funds for desks and other needs. Her classroom building will be completed in January, in plenty of time to meet the next term of school starting on February 22.
When the children return we will have the Hostel, 10 Classrooms, a Kitchen, a Clinic, and a Roadside Stand. We are still looking for sponsors for 25 day scholars (tuition and a meal each day for needy children who live in the community), and some other wishlist items which you'll find on our Donate page. Please keep us in mind for your holiday giving. Thank you!
The Zelevinsky family made a very generous $5000 donation in November that is now funding construction of three additional classrooms as well as paying for some other construction needs within the compound such as shower rooms, private single rooms where some live-in staff will reside, and a hallway with a few smaller meeting areas for the school.
Karen Zelevinsky suggested the classroom names of Loving Heart, Free Mind, and Helping Hands. These names really help embody the Humanist values that we represent at BiZoHa, and we are very pleased with her suggested naming.
We are so grateful to the Zelevinsky family for this kind donation, which goes a long way toward allowing us to achieve our goal to open the school campus with the February 2016 school term.
On November 21 at Kasese Humanist Primary School we held the Humanist Ethos Staff workshop that brought teachers from area schools together to deliberate on the following aims:
1. To establish a common vision of Humanist Principles
2. To embed Humanist Principles into our day-to-day teaching and student care
3. To apply the Humanist Principles to school discipline and teaching methods
4. To create work groups to develop a sense of shared ownership and commitment
5. To agree a common set of rules and procedures for achieving high standards of student welfare and education
We had a team of two facilitators from Raising Voices http://raisingvoices.org/ to instruct in the topic of improving our schools and setting them aside from other schools by ensuring our schools are violence free, providing a conducive learning environment,transparent and accountable. We also learned about corporal punishment and its consequences, and forging ways to administering of friendly positive discipline behavior.
Close to 25 teachers at the school attended this workshop.Also in attendance were Bwambale Robert Musubaho, Director of Orphans at Kasese Humanist Primary School, Kamya Moses Kamya of Mustard Seed School and Peter Kisirinya of Isaac Newton High School.
Bwambale Robert stated, "On behalf of Kasese Humanist Primary School, i thank the Sponsors of this project who made it to success, i salute the facilitators from Raising voices for the content and the kits about creation of better schools and Uganda Humanist Schools Trust for coordinating our schools to another level.
All in all,we are so thankful that we are at some step and remain optimistic that our schools will strive for the betterment of our all round learners and development of our country. Our schools are a symbol standing out from the crowd emphasizing the need to have schools that welcome people of all beliefs, no discrimination based on sex, tribe, race or gender, no dogmatism and indoctrination to mention but a few."
With Science, we can progress.
Construction continued at Bizoha throughout October on new classrooms. With a generous $1000 donation from Greg and Melinda Burnett, we added the third classroom to the campus, next door to the ZELEVINSKY CLASSROOM. The Burnett family has chosen the name BRIGHT FUTURE CLASSROOM for their building, and we thank them for their kind sponsorship and for truly helping to provide a brighter future for the children. Construction is proceeding quickly!
Walls are also going up on the MUSUBAHO CLASSROOM, our fourth classroom named in honor of Bwambale Robert's grandmother, who raised him after he was orphaned as a child. It is exciting to watch these classrooms being constructed and to realize the dream of a school campus on the BiZoHa site.
We still need to construct four to six more classrooms in time to open our next school year for Kasese Humanist Primary School on February 2, 2016 at the BiZoHa Campus, and are seeking sponsors. For a $1000 donation you may name a classroom and help to ensure the successful startup of this campus -- helping to provide a science and reason-based education to hundreds of children from our community each year.
We're pleased to report that we received a very generous donation of school books this month, valued at nearly $1000, from the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust. These books are earmarked for our BiZoHa campus, and we are very grateful for the tremendous help this will be to our teachers and students!
We have much to do to build and outfit our classroom facilities over the next three months. We appreciate all of your enthusiasm and support of our Humanist endeavors in the Kasese Province of Uganda. We ask that you please visit our website at Bizoha.org and make a donation if you can. Also, if you would share our news story on your twitter, facebook, blog or other social media, or "in real life", we'd be grateful for the help in expanding our network of supporters. Thank you for all that you do!
The BIZOHA Campus of Kasese Humanist Primary School (KHPS) has acquired new farmland in the irrigation zone of Muhokya, Uganda commonly known by locals as Rutoke. The land is spacious, with fertile alluvial soils, well connected by a road and located on the banks of River Muhokya. Planting crops in this area does not require one to time the season and changing weather pattern.
Founding Director Bwambale Robert Musubaho initiated the land purchase some months ago in installments from the former owner. This month the balance was finally cleared off with funds realized from the sale of a car.
The land is located some few meters from the site of the BIZOHA Humanist Orphanage. Bwambale's intention is to seek advice and assistance from agricultural experts to find the best approach to making this land cultivable all year round. This farmland has the potential to provide food crops throughout the year as its well connected to the Muhokya Irrigation Project. He is already a subscriber to the irrigation group having paid the one-time membership fees.
Farmers in this area normally have water channels connected to their land, where their gardens must have ridges. The water is channeled through these ridges and spread through the farmland three times per week.
The location of BIZOHA farm puts it at a better advantage to access water at any time needed since we are located next to the Muhokya River. One plan is to put some houses on this farmland so that intensive farming is practiced. Presently we have got three farm workers who manage it namely Mutwaro, Rogers and a semi skilled farm manager called Bagambe. The land right now has beans which we have started to harvest, bananas some about 2 – 3 months to start harvesting, some tomatoes, cabbages, plantains and an array of sweet potatoes.
We would like to ensure the farm will become self reliant at some point, with optimism that this farmland will supply crops to feed our school children at both the Rukoki and BIZOHA Campus of KHPS. It will also allow us to sell produce at the Andrea Vogt Roadside Stand, a venue where locals and road passersby can stop and purchase foodstuffs to benefit the BIZOHA school, orphanage and the Andrea Voght Health Clinic on site.
With more intensive farming we could potentially sell to the ready market for food crop to feed Kasese Town and some nearby towns like Muhokya, Kahendero, Kikorongo and Bwera.
Bwambale is hereby calling upon the international community especially agronomists, horticulturists or volunteers with skills in modern farming to offer advise and/or assistance in making the farmland most efficiently productive.
Currently the orphan students housed at BIZOHA are among the beneficiaries of the crops grown at this farmland, as they are now eating the fresh beans, tomatoes and plantains currently present at this farm.
With Science, we can progress.