Big day today – my Uganda schools exhibition opens at Conway Hall this evening. This post should go up just as it starts. I’m currently pretty nervous and excited – nobody’s really seen the room before today, so I’m really hoping it goes down well. Hopefully there’ll be 30 or so people coming, and I’m breaking out the jelly babies. Here’s one of the walls:
More shots of the room are on the official exhibition site. My last exhibition was frustratingly difficult to put online due to release form issues, and I’m really happy there’s a proper permanent presence for this one. New Humanist tweeted about it this afternoon, which was lovely of them.
I’ve been planning this for almost a year. It’s the culmination of my final university project – I just need to hand in some example images and shots of the exhibition room in May, and that’s my degree done. But the main aim was to help raise money and awareness for the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust, which supports the three schools. Here’s how it’s described at the exhibition:
The Uganda Humanist Schools Trust supports three Ugandan schools, each of which offers liberal, humanist education to needy children. The schools are in impoverished rural areas, where few families can pay for education, and where many children, orphaned by disease, are cared for by extended family members. This exhibition aims to show a snapshot of the day-to-day life of the children at the schools.
The three schools are first and foremost a humanitarian response to the desperate need to provide educational opportunities for such children. However, they are also part of a pioneering experiment to create schools in Africa with a liberal, humanist ethos. As one school principal explains:
Every person in this school is treated as a human being. If one person is hungry it is a problem for us all. We take care of each other. We apply reason and science to solve our problems and do not rely on superstition and prejudice.
The schools were started on a shoestring by Ugandan humanists. Facilities are poor but improving, thanks to support from members of humanist organisations like: The Rationalist Association / New Humanist, the International Humanist and Ethical Union, the British Humanist Association, and the work of the UHST. The schools desperately need support. You can find out more information, including how you can help, via the website, at www.ugandahumanistschoolstrust.org.
I just yesterday read the March 2011 report on the Mustard Seed School, which has very recently been able to sink a borehole and water pump, so they finally have clean on-site water. Before, they had to queue for hours at the local pump in the grounds of a local church. This will make a huge difference, and they’ll also use the pump to provide water for the local community. Fantastic.
I’ve really had a brilliant time from the moment I set foot in Uganda to today’s launch, and I’m very grateful to the UHST for trusting me enough to essentially give me free reign to take / use photos. Can’t believe my luck, to be honest.