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Monday, October 28, 2013

KUHA attends and reports about the IHEYO African Working Group regional meeting & training

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Kasese United Humanist association was among the participant organizations that were invited to attend the IHEYO REGIONAL AFRICAN WORKING GROUP MEETING AND TRAINING that was organized by IHEYO in Conjunction with HIVOS and HALEA, a local NGO. More about Kasese United Humanist Association HERE

The conference kicked off in high gears with representatives from the East African region countries namely Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Finally Uganda. Uganda took the top lead in having several secular organizations participating in the conference.

Kato Mukasa opening the conference
Humanist Association for Leadership, Equity and Accountability was the main organizer of the event and hosted several local organizations who work under the umbrella of Uganda Humanist association. Organizations that were present at the conference were Kasese United Humanist Association represented by Bwambale Robert, HELU represented by Aggie Ajera,  Havrev by Mark Baguma, UHASSO by a team of board of trustees who included Mr. Deo Ssekitoleko, Kisirinya Peter, Mark Baguma, Halea by Mr. Lukyamuzi Joseph.
Opening remarks of the conference was made by Lukyamuzi Joseph who is the current Chairperson HALEA who welcomed all the participants. The turn up was good as all the invited delegates turned up.
Self introduction of the participants followed next.

A short video was played showing HALEA Teens performing promoting Humanism through Music, other videos about witch hunting by Nigerian pastors and Boko Haram fundamentalists were played. There was one scary and horrible video showing the Boko Haram fundamentalists killing a Christian faithful by cutting her throat with a knife and beheading her. This exposes the atrocities committed on the African soil and anywhere in the world in the name of religion. The participants were not happy with the act and condemned the act.

The next item was to call on the invited groups to present to the delegates their activities .Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) opened the exercise where Ssenfuka Warry presented a speech backed with a presentation about the organization plus their activities. Farug is a feminine organization advocating for women and minority rights like LGBT and women emancipation. Warry cited a number of challenges being faced in their works and appealed for legislators and Human rights campaigners to work tooth and nail to ensure that civil liberty and minority rights are observed.

Second on the Agenda was a speech and presentation from Aggie Ajera of HELU Uganda which is based in Gulu, she made a presentation about the organization activities and the delegates were so happy to see that many people’s lives of people in Gulu are being transformed in the right direction politically, socially and economically. Gulu people are just healing the wounds after being victims of the aimless war by the Lords Resistance Army lead by renegade Joseph Kony, a native of the area. Many people have lost their lives, property and spent most of their time in camps and of recent they are trying to rebuild themselves.

Third item was a presentation from George Ongere of Center for Inquiry Kenya who informed the participants about on campus seminars and debates in several Universities around Nairobi where students are enlightened about Humanism and how they can be good people to take Kenya Forward. He also organizes anti superstition campaigns.
Mr. Ongere told the delegates about his new project of the Humanist Orphans where through his efforts, he has managed to put several children in school by paying fees and uniform.
Mr. Ongere is a Writer and informed the delegates of his new book not yet published, its title is Does Africa Need God?.

A speech and presentation from Rwanda was made by Daniel Twesigye who informed the delegates about free thought in Rwanda. He however said that Humanism is still a new thing in their country and in this regard appealed for well-wishers worldwide to supply them with free thought literature, books, magazines and DVDs such that the elites can understand the philosophy with ease. Daniel is a University Student in Kigali doing Business Administration.

A presentation by James from South Sudan followed who told the delegates that Humanism has been deep rooted in the South Sudan army and that they are passing it to local Sudanese in an effort to debunk the prevailing superstitions and beliefs in magic.

A speech by Kasese United Humanist association was made by Bwambale Robert who made a mention about the activities being done to promote humanism, Bwambale talked about the Free thought library and how it has helped to expose to the local people free thought and science knowledge. A mention was made about Kasese Humanist Primary School and Kasese Humanist Botanical Gardens. The delegates were happy with KUHA activities of promoting humanism in several ways.
More information about the school is online at Kasese Humanist Primary School  and Kasese Humanist Botanical Gardens

On day two, began with the recap of Day One activities by Kato Mukasa.
Thereafter the delegates had training on Human rights and the Educator was Ms Kisubi Esther who is a lecturer at KIU accompanied by a Professor who taught the participants many issues on Human rights including its history, the role of Non Governmental Organizations in promotion of human rights, positive rights and negative rights and a mention about the Human rights treaties and relevant documents.
The Trainers emphasized local NGO to employ networking with local and international organization in their efforts to promote people’s rights.
A mention was made about the hierarchy of rights.
A German Expatriate working  with GTZ by the names Ms. Anke Weisheit made a brief well illustrated power point  presentation citing out most influence prominent personalities on the African and western soil and she stressed that Ubuntu or living by the golden rules, humanist values and ethics can bring peace, compassion and harmony in the world. She also gave tips on fundraising strategies and mentioned what donors would expect from donor seeking organizations.

In an effort to strengthen the smooth running of activities done in the Africa working group, a number of issues were discussed ranging from social networking, creating sustainable projects to take local organizations towards self reliance, fundraising strategies, lobbying, creation of more humanist schools, magazines, newsletters and setting up of a radio station to advance secular views.
                                                                               Ms. Anke making a presentation

As the past Leadership did not work to the Member Organizations expectations, some leadership changes were made. Mr Kato Mukasa from Halea has been the Country Coordinator for IHEYO in Uganda  for 2 years since 2011 and suggested to step aside to allow new members to also ride the boat. 

                                                                   Some of the Participants in the conference

On this vacancy Bwambale Robert from Kasese United Humanist Association showed interest in the post together with Aggie Ajera from HELU. There was a cast of ballot papers where Bwambale Robert got 11 votes while Aggie came up with 4 votes. In this case Bwambale Robert is now the Country Coordinator for IHEYO. 

Other Country Coordinators for the other countries were:

George Ongere  Kenya
Rwanda   Daniel Twesigye
Sudan, Lugobya James

All in all, the conference ended at mid day on Sunday 27th.
Special thanks go to HALEA Uganda for the nice reception, care and conduct of the conference and the Member Organization pledged to work harder in our effort to make this world better for us all. Thanks HALEA, Thanks IHEYO and thanks all the organizations that participated in this conference.

                                 Part of the gardens at Bativa Hotel in Kampala

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A memorable trip to Queen Elizabeth National Park with the Pathfinders

It was on a cool Saturday 5th November 2013 that Kasese Humanist Primary School staff together with the Pathfinders had a tour aimed at visiting Queen Elizabeth National Park located in Kasese district. 

This place is among the treasures that the Ugandan government cherishes so much as it is a tourist destination offering a variety of attractions ranging from a variety of tree species, birds, magnificent views of craters, wild life animals, Aquatics and a variety of geographical features like craters, escarpments, cliffs and a mini museum.
Mweya Safari Lodge seen from a distance ( Photo by Bwambale Robert)
At exactly 9:00 AM, Our Journey started from the KHPS Railway campus where we boarded a mini van that accommodated 18 people comprising of the 4 Pathfinders Conor, Wendy, Michelle and Ben , the School Director and his wife plus the rest being staff members.

We took the Kasese Mbarara road and moved through Kikorongo where we had a stop over at the Equator, one of the land marks that separates the northern and southern hemisphere. 
Pathfinders team with KHPS Staff 2013
This point is at 0 Degrees. Both the Staff and the Pathfinders posed for several photo shots and were all happy visiting this place, the stop over lasted for 12 minutes and we proceeded to Katunguru which is one of the fishing villages around Lake George where we had chance to make another stop over and visited the Kazinga Channel which connects Lake George and Lake Edward. On this channel, there is a giant metallic bridge. We had chance to view a series of canoe boats and engine powered canoes and divers. We spent close to 20 minutes in this place.
Visiting the Katunguru bridge on Kazinga channel

We proceeded with our journey and headed to Queen Elizabeth National Park , as we were moving through the road to the Uganda Wild Life Authority Katunguru Gate road we saw a number of animals and among them were Uganda Kobs, Elephants, Buffalos and some birds. At 11:20 AM, we reached the Mweya Safari lodge and were warmly received by Assistants at the Visitors Information Center where we cleared the charges for visiting the park. An official working for UWA had an introductory lecture about the Queen Elizabeth National Park, explained about the geographical features located within the Albertine rift valley all the way from Lake Albert to Kisoro in South western Uganda and thsi was made possible by an already prepared, electrified diagrammatic chart with buttons and markings of different features like lakes, volcanoes, mountains, rivers, craters in this region. The lecture was very well presented and illustrative, there is a lot we learnt there. We also had chance to view several historical and scientific tools which are well tagged which are educative and informative.
Giant Elephant grazing in Queen Elizabeth National park

At 12:30, we had lunch which we had carried along which was fried rice with meat and sliced irish potatoes accompanied with bottled water. the meal was very tasty and the fact that we had it outdoors under a tree shade made everything lively.
The fact that we reached a bit late in this area to see the animals, we were rather disappointed. The park staff told us that they normally conduct game drives twice in a day and are conducted between 6:00 AM in the morning and from 4:00 PM to night time. We were left with the option to fix a tour of the animals in the evening something we agreed to do.
Lions resting in Queen Elizabeth National Park ( Photo by: Bwambale Robert)
In an effort to kill the boredom, we came up with the idea to visit the nearby attractions gifted by nature. We moved briefly to Katwe, a nearby trading center known for a fishing village, salt mining and small business trading. we came by to the offices of the Lake Katwe Salt mines where i paid the entrance fees to the mines and we proceeded there. We were moved along the mines by an official from the Salt Mines who acted as our guide. He explained to us about the history of the mines and the processes gone through with the extraction of the salt from the lake.
The Pathfinders at lake Katwe Salt Mines together with KHPS Staff
We spent there some good time and we headed to the Lake Katwe Fishing village where few of us had a boat ride paid for by the Pathfinders.
Katwe salt mines

From there, we proceeded back to Queen Elizabeth where we were joined with a Tour Guide provided to us by the management of Queen Elizabeth National Park and this time we moved the Kasenyi side where we had chance to see a variety of animals like the Uganda Kobs, bush bucks, water-bucks, warthog, lions, squirrels, Swaswa and a variety of birds plus magnificent scenery. we went up to Kasenyi landing site and saw another active salt mining lake . At this moment, it was past 6:15 PM and darkness was almost coming so we had to board our taxi through the park and reached the Mbarara - Kasese Road  and headed back to the school. 
Listening to briefs about Queen Elizabeth N. Park at museum
At 7: 30 PM, we reached at the school.
It should however be noted with concern that the Pathfinders Project Team sponsored the trip by meeting all the costs for the 18 Sitter van, paying for the Tour Guide costs to the park while the KHPS management contributed in paying for meals, bottled water and entrance fees to the salt mines.

Nyamunuka Crater Lake pictured from above (photo by : Bwambale Robert)
On behalf of Kasese Humanist Primary School, i appreciate the support and generosity the pathfinders have extended to my school project. The trip indeed was very much welcome and has refreshed and equipped more knowledge in addition to what they teach to the children.

With science, we can progress.