Now that is doing something

The last talk at the CFI Summit was perhaps the most inspiring of all: it was by Bill Cooke, the Director of International Programs at CFI, telling us what the programs do. They do enormously important things with a very small budget. I was frankly unaware of the International Programs before. I feel a little less embarrassed about that because I’m not the only one; lots of people were exclaiming that they’d had no idea. Bill said he blames himself for not publicizing it more, because he’s not very techy. Well!! Neither am I, but I do happen to have this noisy blog here, lying around not doing anything, so I can use it to give the International Programs a signal boost.

Herewith begins the signal boost!

(I told Bill I want to do that, and to send me pictures and stuff. Division of labor. He can do the hard work and stretch a tiny budget to do big things, and I can do the soft job of spreading the word about that online.)

There’s a report from last February at CFI.

In January, the Center for Inquiry’s director of international programs, Bill Cooke, journeyed to Kenya, Uganda, and Egypt to meet with CFI’s affiliates in those countries and discuss their work. The trip was very informative, as it revealed the impact these organizations are having in their countries as well as the extent of their need for support to further the cause of critical thinking and humanism.

Here we focus on Bill’s trip to CFI–Kenya, where he spent much of his time.

First on the itinerary for Bill’s five-day engagement, he met with the children involved in the CFI–Kenya program “Humanist Orphans.” This is an ambitious initiative for the education and assistance of kids and their families from all
across rural Africa who have been accused of witchcraft. Bill met with teachers, students, and families, shared stories, and gave them an excellent lesson on humanism and the dangers of superstition, of which they have direct experience.

Bill later met with leaders from various community organizations on the ground in Nairobi, sharing strategies and insight on skepticism and combatting superstition. He even got to spend time engaging with the brilliant young minds of the University of Nairobi Humanists and Freethinkers, giving them a firmer grasp on the ideals of humanism.

Reporting on the visit, George Ongere, director of CFI–Kenya told us that Bill was “inspiring” and that it “instilled confidence in us,” particularly because exposure to international members of the organized global freethought community gives these local activists the opportunity to be “more prepared to defend their stance intellectually” as well as “more confidence in our activities.”

Ok that’s another reason this signal needs to be boosted. I wanted to boost it so that more people will DONATE to the International Programs (which you can do easily just by donating to CFI and earmarking the donation for the International Programs), but of course international solidarity is another huge reason.

I talked about that in my part of the panel, as a matter of fact. The panel was about how humanism and skepticism relate to each other, and I ended up finding it oddly difficult to figure out what to say, so in the end I said I’m not sure I care all that much, because I care more about internationalism and human rights, and that I think if there’s one thing that’s actually useful about my writing, it’s boosting the signal of people like Leo Igwe and Maryam Namazie. I was the last person to speak and Bill was the first person to comment, and much to my surprise he started by warmly agreeing with what I’d said. I’ve gotten used to annoying people whenever I open my mouth or type words, so that made a change.

So anyway – donate to Bill’s program if you can, and spread the word if you have a word-spreading machine.

It heartens all of us at CFI to know what fantastic work is being done by George and everyone at CFI–Kenya, and that interactions that bridge national and cultural divides, like Bill Cooke’s sojourn, make this worldwide movement stronger and more closely-knit.


 Bill Cooke in Kenya 2




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