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BiZoHa (in Uganda): the World’s First Atheist Orphanage
Hank Pellissier   May 22, 2015   Brighter Brains  

Is every orphanage in the world operated by a religious organization?

Nope. Not any more.

BiZoHa Orphanage was launched by four members of the Brighter Brains Institute - a think-and-do tank located in San Francisco’s East Bay. BiZoHa is situated in Muhokya, in Kasese province, near the Rwenzori mountains of western Uganda, close to the Congo border.

BiZoHa is the world’s first atheist orphanage.

The parentless children living there will not be indoctrinated by any religion; instead they will tutored by the secular staff of the nearby Kasese Humanist Primary School (KHPS).

KHPS is aligned with godless groups like Foundation Beyond Belief and Atheist Alliance International, plus other irreligious organizations in Australia, the United Kingdom, USA, Germany, and Canada.

BiZoHa raised its start-up funds via a GoFundMe campaign that asked for $4,506 to construct a home for 20-25 orphans. The request went “viral” with astonishing quickness. Transhumanist writer Zoltan Istvan’s reportage on VICE Motherboard blasted the news into public consciousness. On Facebook, it was shared by tens of thousands of godless enthusiasts.

Thirty-three people donated $100 or more. One benefactor tossed in $1,000. Ninety-seven people contributed. The campaign was enriched beyond expectations in only 29 hours.

The four people involved in the campaign are Fellows and Board Members of Brighter Brains Institute.

Bwambale M Robert is the director of KHPS and he will be the director of BiZoHa Orphanage. Establishing the orphanage has been a dream of his for many years. Bwambale was orphaned himself at the age of five. After working his way through high school as a barber, he subsequently received a university scholarship, and matriculated in Biology. He is the author of the book - “Orphans of Rwenzori - a Humanist Perspective” - that was distributed to all campaign contributors.

Bwambale intends to make BiZoHa Orphanage economically self-sufficient in 1 year. This goal will be achieved by selling corn, beans, cassava, peanuts, and lettuce grown on its 7-acre crop farm, and by selling drinks in a Roadside Stand on the popular Fort Portal Mponde Road, that leads to destinations like Bushenyi, Mbarra town, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Bwera.

“BiZoHa” is an acronym of the three USA fundraisers for the orphanage.

“Bi” is Biba Kavass, an award-winning Economics teacher at Southwind High School in Memphis, Tennessee, where she established the state’s first high school KIVA Club, and encouraged students to write the upcoming book, Microfinance in Action: A Guide for Teenagers.

“Zo” is Zoltan Istvan, author of The Transhumanist Wager and feature writer and columnist at Gizmodo, VICE, National Geographic, Huffington Post, Psychology Today and other publications. He’s running for President in 2016 as the Transhumanist Party  candidate.

“Ha” is Hank Pellissier (myself). I am interim Managing Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technology, plus director of the Brighter Brains Institute, and I was the founder/co-producer of the world’s first Atheist Film Festival, in 2009.

Does Uganda have an orphan issue? Yes it does.

Uganda has 3.5 million orphans, 9% of the population. Children are parentless due to AIDS, civil war, violence, accidents, and abandonment. Up to 70% of orphans become criminals as adults. Among girls, 60% end up in prostitution, where the HIV/AIDS rate is 37%.

Education for orphans is limited. When they “age out” of orphanages, many become “street kids” sniffing glue, stealing, scavenging in garbage dumps, begging. Many are subjected to illness, filth, malnutrition, sexual abuse, and child trafficking (slavery).

In the 3 months since the first campaign, enormous progress on the orphanage has occurred. Three buildings are almost entirely constructed!

The main building there the orphans and staff will be house, is already finished. It has a cheery humanist symbol on one side (see top photo), and a list of all significant contributors on the another side. (see photo below)

Dr. Bruce Chou, an anesthesiologist in California, contributed $1,000 to the construction of the “Dr. Bruce Chou Classroom” which is 80% finished (see large building photo below).

Andrea Vogt, from Germany, donated $925 to construct the “Andrea Vogt Roadside Stand”  which is 50% complete. (see small building photo below)

Another contributor poured in $500 to purchase a solar panel for the orphanage, to guarantee its energy needs.

At the present time (May 21) there is a second GoFundMe campaign in progress, that has raised an additional $2,500. Funds from this will be used for a variety of needs, including salaries for the orphanage staff. Full-time workers will receive $700 annually, a decent wage in rural Uganda.

Anyone interested in helping is encouraged to donate here, or to contact Significant donors are awarded with their name on a building and their own channel on the BBI website. Other perks include t-shirts and ebooks.

Dr. Bruce Chou Classroom (under contruction)

Andrea Vogt Roadside Stand (under construction)

Hank Pellissier serves as IEET Managing Director and is an IEET Affiliate Scholar.

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