Opening Words from Sun. December 10 by Allison Hile

A Priest, an Evangelical Minister, and an Imam, and walk into a…..

I wish I could say, “bar” and make a joke. Instead, they really are in schools in Africa trying to convert people. Surely you heard the same stories I did growing up about missionaries in developing countries.

Well NOW we can say there are humanist schools in Uganda! I am so proud of that! I believe supporting girls who attend them is one of the best things we do here at the St. Louis Ethical Society.

I have not been to the Uganda Schools we support like Krystal has and Ed Schmidt from the society who helped start them. Matthew and I have, however, visited a village and a primary school in Zimbabwe where it was both heartbreaking and hopeful.

In Uganda, Mustard Seed Humanist Primary School had been run as a Muslim foundation until it went bankrupt in March 2021. The local community saw this as an opportunity to have a more inclusive Humanist school and asked Moses Kamya to take it over. With the help of Uganda Humanist Schools Trust the school was purchased, repaired, painted and the kitchen and toilets updated.

Isaac Newton Humanist Primary school was a former evangelical Christian school which failed financially during Covid. Local parents asked Isaac Newton School to take it over and run it inclusively like their high school.

The money members of the Ethical Society of St. Louis send to support Ugandan schools goes through the very structured Uganda Humanist Schools Trust in Great Britain. All schools supported by the Trust teach the Uganda national curriculum and prepare students for public examinations. At the same time, they aim to develop self-confident students who care for each other and for their local communities. The schools encourage students to be open minded and questioning. They are taught to respect evidence and to appreciate the need for shared human values. To foster a spirit of understanding, students are introduced to both religious, as required by the national curriculum, and secular humanist life stances.

Educating girls is not just a matter of individual empowerment but also a catalyst for broader societal development. It has the potential to create a positive impact on the well-being and progress of entire countries. It is vital to the world.

We cannot educate all the girls on the African Continent, but please, give any money you are able to support the girls we can help. Send it to the Ethical Society via PayPal or care of Nancy Jelinek, our amazing office manager. (NJelinek@EthicalSTL.org) Supporting 1 girl with room, board, and education for a year is $525, and anything you can give will help. Last year we supported 36 girls and provided all of the menstruating students at 8 humanist schools with locally made, reusable period protection.

(See, and you thought I couldn’t talk about anything other than Abortion Care!)

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.