I’ve said it many times to folks here at CFI: I am in awe of our local branch leaders and volunteers, the people who take CFI’s mission and values and apply them in the real world, where people actually live. I am in awe of the passion, time, and effort that the members of our local communities devote to fostering a sense of belonging and camaraderie, and to advancing the causes that CFI stands for.
As delighted as I am by what our branches in the U.S. are doing, it’s always a particular treat for me to hear from one of our international branches, to get a totally different perspective on what it means to live out the values and principles of CFI in a very different context. To give just two examples, we got to share with you the recent big successes of CFI–Kenya and its Humanist Orphans Project, and we also celebrated the founding of CFI–Pakistan. These are two places where, obviously, the challenges they face and the issues they choose to tackle will be rather different than those of, say, the excellent Centers for Inquiry in Indiana or Michigan.
Last month we got a great report from CFI–Uganda, a very active branch that deals with things like the problem of belief in witchcraft among much of the population and superstitions about medicine and disease. And they tackle these issues, and many more, directly, person by person.
“The organisation endeavors to translate humanist principles of science, free inquiry, rationalism, and secularism into practical activism that can positively change people’s lives socially and economically,” writes Deo Ssekitooleko. “CFI–Uganda is repositioning herself to become a communities-based organisation in the fields of inquiry, community education, and social welfare activism.”
It’s no small thing, as you can see. In the past few months, CFI–Uganda offered humanist and science-focused counseling services in health were offered to the general community at their center, where medical practitioners were invited once a week to counsel people on topics such as diabetes, cancers, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and reproductive health. The also collaborated with other health service centers to offer counseling on HIV/AIDS testing and education, and marked World AIDS Day with a series of workshops and training seminars on prevention, new developments, and the superstitions surrounding it.
On February 12, they held a Darwin Day event to “highlight the humanistic philosophical principles of the humanist movement in Uganda,” and they invited both secularists and the religious to join in a dialogue on the topic of “Life on Earth: Its Origin, Purpose, and Future.”
In the coming months, they’ll be working on education about diabetes and cancer, holding a humanist youth conference, and launching a new website.
And we can’t wait to see it all take shape. Bill Cooke is CFI’s director of international programs, and he’s as proud as anyone of the good being done. “’The work undertaken by CFI-Uganda shows the importance of humanist input, because the religious charities are highly selective in the issues they address, leaving many people neglected and alone,” Bill told me. “It is the humanist organisations like CFI-Uganda that pick up this slack.”
Deo told us that his organization “looks forward to more cooperation into the future” with CFI in the U.S., “for the good of humanity and other species.” Well put. Keep up the great work, CFI–Uganda. You’re all a wonderful reminder of how crucial the mission of CFI is, to foster a secular society based on reason, science, and humanist values, and how that mission can change real people’s lives for the better — no matter where in the world they are.