“To the question “Why me?” the universe barely bothers to murmur the reply “Why not?”
– Christopher Hitchens.
Last week the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Student Societies (The AHS) announced that the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust would be the charity of choice for this years Non – Prophet Week (20th – 26th October). We will be raising money for a specific project or two that the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust urgently needs funding for, which will allow the pupils to get the most out of their education. Selecting the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust as our charity this year means we can all be sure that we are making an active and practical difference. It allows us to give the greatest gift of all: a better education.
Just under a year ago, I sat at the British Humanist Association, during the AHS Training Day as the Regional Development Officer for the East Midlands, and I said there was little point in holding a bake sale if I was prepared to go further and do something that little bit extra, that would help improve and save the lives of people who live in countries where malaria is a real, everyday threat. I said, because it just came to me, that I would walk for a week around Nottingham University wearing high heels, because this was sure to be something that would spark a person’s interest. If you saw a man walking around in heels on your campus you would be determined to find out why, I am sure. That is what happened. My reply to those who asked was a simple one: “What is a week of suffering to me, compared to someone who contracts malaria?” Non – Prophet Week is about perspective.
This year, I want us all to try our best to beat whatever we raised last year. There were some brilliant ideas too: the president of Nottingham Universities AHS society, Richard Acton, wore a colander on his head. Well that’s no big deal, you say! It is when he wears a suit everywhere he goes. My predecessor, former AHS Secretary, Ruth Haydock ran an incredible 15K; the current President and Treasurer of the AHS held a 24-hour edit-a-thon on Wikipedia for all things atheist, humanist and secular. Those are just a few incredibly creative examples. Remember to be creative; cake sales are common at university, so that may stagnate interest, or it may not… depends on the cakes! All of us, from over 40 different societies across Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland joined together and we all helped to raise great amounts, and save the lives of countless, nameless faces. This year we are taking a more practical approach. We are helping the lives of our fellow humans more directly, by choosing a specific project and raising money towards it. This is a subtle but key difference from last year. Where last year we raised money for nets to prevent mosquitos biting humans, and so saving a life indirectly, without that person ever knowing where that net came from, this year it will be the opposite. The Uganda Humanist Schools Trust will be able to inform their pupils of precisely who helped raise the money for their new equipment. This is a small but necessary point to make. An education is something we are all fortunate enough to have. We were born into a country that could supply that education, in some cases pay for that education too. We are all humanists, and I absolutely believe that being a humanist means taking an active part in improving the lives of our fellow humans across the world. Humanism is after all, ‘for the one life we have’.
Last year, I was awarded a certificate of recognition from the glorious former AHS President Rory Fenton, for raising the most money for Non – Prophet Week. Can you beat your humble secretary this year? I hope so!
This year, I have a record to keep and you all have a record to beat. I want us all to be competitive, and to challenge ourselves either individually, or as a society in order to beat the total raised last year. To sacrifice a week actively taking part to help raise money for something that affects a persons life forever is a small sacrifice, but not I don’t think, an unreasonable one. Non – Prophet Week is about empathy, compassion, hope, joy and most of all, making a difference. We can make that difference. Non – Prophet Week is the very active part of humanism. We are all humanists… let’s prove it.
Join myself, Chris and Dan in helping make this year’s Non – Prophet Week the most successful yet and help us bring the gift of education to those who need it the very most.
If you have any questions about Non – Prophet Week please email Martin at: firstname.lastname@example.org