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In this issue

IHEYO conference(s) 2006
Report international humanist youth training 2006

President’s note: IHEYO looks ahead
News from IHEYO’s General Assembly 2006

Humanist Youth News
European Humanist Youth Camp in Norway, Summer 2007

International Youth News
Oxfam International Youth Partnerships 2007-2010

In the Spotlight:
Betty Nassaka,
My journey to the first women humanist organisation in Uganda


IHEYO looks ahead

Ever since I became became active in IHEYO in 2003, we have spent much time on re-establishing IHEYO as an organisation. Formal things had to be in place, we had to recruit members and proved the usefulness of our existence.

This phase in the reactivation of IHEYO is now over. We have acquired the status as International Non-Governmental Organisation (INGO), found our place in the world of organised humanism and built relations to other organisations and institutions in the international humanist movement.

But still, IHEYO has a long way to go. As I start my presidency, we have ambitious plans for 2007 and the coming years. In the coming period, I want to focus especially on two issues: increasing the number of members and communicating better with the members we have. If IHEYO is to fulfill our main aim, to be a platform for youth humanists worldwide, these two are essential.

After new year, IHEYO will start the work with establishing a new website, driven by content management system. This will enable easier updates to our site, from many sources. When this new tool is in place, I hope our members will use it well. Also, a there will be a campaign to reach new members. The 40 members we already have can very well be accompanied by organisations from more organisations in East- and South-Europe, Oceania, Asia, the Americas and vast parts of Africa. Do not hesitate to contact me if you know of organisations you think should be member of IHEYO.

I am particularly glad to chair a organisation with a broad and friendly outlook. Our General Assembly just made part of our By-Laws that we aim to have as a diverse Executive Committee as possible. Though half of our executives are Europeans, the other half consists of Asians and Africans. I find this important, if IHEYO is to be an truly international organisation. I have seen other “international” organisations whose boards consist of white westerns only. I find that sad, and am glad that IHEYO stands out as different. Though this can still be absolutely better, it is the best composition in the recent history of IHEYO. Also, one can add, almost half of our full members are currently from Europe

You can find a short and a longer version of our action plan for 2007 at our website: If you want to contribute, or just tell me something, please do contact me, for instance in our forum: . I always listen, though time won't always allow me to reply as soon as I should.

Lastly, I hope you can wish me and my team of volunteers good luck with the tasks ahead.

Lars-Petter Helgestad
President of IHEYO

Comment this President`s Note at


IHEYO annual conference 2006
28 October - 4 November, 2006, India

In the South of India, in Vijayawada, more than 50 young humanist youth leaders and experts came together to develop their ideas and skills on teaching critical thinking and free inquiry during the fifth annual international IHEYO conference. At the same time, humanist youth leaders in Africa held an online conference to discuss pressing issues for African societies. The next issue of the YouthSpeak will inform you deeply about these events.

Two pictures taken by Sven Berg Ryen


Report international humanist youth training
8-16 July, 2006, Belgium

Four organisations from four different countries exchanged this summer in the heart of the European Union: Brussels. They couldn't have chosen a more symbolic place. Around 20 young people came together, from Belgium, Norway, Finland and Poland.

The training was initiated and coordinated by the Belgian Humanist Youth, who realise the importance of making youth work not only a local and national affair, but an international matter as well. We live in a globalizing world and that is something that especially young people experience. E-mailing with a friend in India, traveling or studying in Spain, learning English through television, listening to Finnish rock music; these are just some of the examples that show that show how what we experience can go beyond our local and national boundaries.

The training aimed at enhancing the knowledge and skill of working with children and youngsters, especially for those working on humanist principles. The programme was divers with many workshops, like on the use of theatre, games, groupdynamics, humanism, conflict resolution and intercultural methods. The participants not only learned on these topics, but experienced the very nature of what they were learning by actually doing youth work in a humanist and intercultural setting.

Personal impression

Chimen Darbandi was one of the participants; The 22 years old Norwegian tells:

It was my first time as a participant in an international conference and my first stay in Brussels, therefore I was very excited. I met very interesting people from different countries during the seminar and I got to know many of them. I thought that we wouldn’t be so different from each other since we all were European, but I was wrong. I think it was nice that we were so 'unlike' because I learned a lot about different cultures during our 10 days in Brussels. And I’m sure that I am going to use this information later in other contexts.
We had training on humanist games, group dynamics, conflict resolution; etc. and of course a lot of fun. There were some late nights, early mornings and days full of interesting lectures and presentations. Though some things were known to us, others were totally new.

In my opinion our stay in Brussels was a useful experience to carry into the future. I will recommend these kinds of international conferences to others youngsters.


What brings youth to humanism as life stance? How is it to share interculturally? You can listen to an interesting radio-interview with some of the participants at the international humanist youth seminar that took place this summer in Belgium online as part of the HNN-podcast number 10.

The segment appears at the end of the one-hour show at 47 mins. You can hear the latest HNN podcast at the following places:

When you are behind your computer, check it out! It will inspire you.


News from the IHEYO General Assembly 2006

The General Assembly of IHEYO that met in Vijayawada, India, on the 28th of October and 4th of November, accepted new members, amended the By-Laws and elected new members to the Executive Committee. The meeting was chaired by 2 nd Vice President Silvana Uhlrich.

IHEYO accepted four new member organizations

The Cameroon Freethought Association and the Atheist Centre ( India) were granted full membership by the General Assembly. Consultative membership were granted to the Transhumanist Students Network (global) and the Ugandan Humanist Effort to Save Women.

IHEYO now has 20 full members and 20 consultative member organizations in 22 different countries, (including a global organisation with its headquarters based in the United States of America). The list of IHEYO members can be seen at our website:

New IHEYO President and members of the Executive Committee

There were eight candidates to the vacant offices in the Executive Committee, of whom seven where elected. Lars-Petter Helgestad of the Norwegian Humanist Association was elected as the new president. Lars-Petter has been a member of the Executive Committee since 2003, and has had the function as Interim President of IHEYO since February 2006.

Vikas Gora of the Ateist Centre ( India) was elected as 1 st Vice President, and former President Gea Meijers of the Union of Freethinking Organisations ( Belgium) was elected as the new Treasurer.

Asaba Lawrence of the Ugandan Humanist Association was reelected as board member. Elected as new board members were Heini Oikkonen of the Prometheus Camp Association
(Finland), Rosemary Wanjala of the Youth Humanist League (the Netherlands) and Uttam Niraula of the Humanist Association of Nepal.

Everyone was elected for a period of three years. Not up for election this year was Secretary-General Yemi Johnson ( Nigeria), 2 nd Vice President Silvana Uhlrich ( Germany) and Board Member Sara Wastijn ( Belgium). The Executive Committee now consists of 10 vibrant and active young humanists who will do their best for IHEYO in the coming period. The composition of the Executive Committee is diverse, and it is balance with 50 % of each gender. See the Executive Committee on our website:

Amendments to the By-Laws

The formal establishment of IHEYO reached its final step when the General Assembly accepted amendments to the By-Laws that was required by the government of Belgium, where IHEYO are now recognized with the status an International Non-Governmental Organisation (INGO).

One amendment was controversial among the delegates at the General Assembly, an amendment including a high level of obligatory quorum of member organisations present at future General Assemblies to change the By Laws and a clause that if the quorum Is not met the GA may convene a new meeting where the quorum is not required after at least 14 days.

After debate, this amendment was passed, with a clause that it applies only until 2008. At the General Assembly in 2008 it will be treated again. The full new By-Laws will soon be published at our website:

New Standing Orders

The IHEYO By-Laws require us to have Standing Orders to regulate matters that are not treated in the By-Laws themselves. The Executive Committee proposed such Standing Orders to the General Assembly and the proposal was passed without changes.

The Standing Orders regulate, among other things, rules of making decisions in the Executive Committee, preparations, deadlines and roles for the General Assembly, financial guidelines and duties and rights volunteers, including a pledge of secrecy.

The Standing Orders are based on the routines of work in IHEYO that has emerged over the past years, as well as some rules to abide by requirements of Belgian law.

All IHEYO volunteers should have read the Standing Orders. The Standing Orders are published at our website:


European Humanist Youth Camp in Norway, Summer 2007
Investigate your life in light of the midnight sun!

IHEYO member organisation Norwegian Humanist Association (HEF) wants to gather young humanists from all of Europe to get to know each other, get know ourselves better, learn more about humanism and have a great week. There should be one contingent leader and 5-10 participants from each country.

HEF has sent an invitation to all the humanist organisations that they know about. So you can contact your organisation to hear if they have started to fill in the application form. If they are not doing anything yet, you should maybe help them.

The organisations have to apply as soon as possible!!

If you would like to be the contingent leader (then you can be older than 25) you have to get your name in the application from your organisation. All the information that HEF has sent to the organizations is also available on their website:

For questions, you can contact Mari-Marthe Apenæs: e-mail:, msn:


Oxfam International Youth Partnerships 2007-2010

Oxfam International Youth Partnerships is a global network of young people working with their communities to create positive, equitable and sustainable change. If you are working with your community to create a positive future then you can apply to be a part of the Oxfam International Youth Partnerships.

When you are selected for the partnership you will have between 2007 and 2010 opportunities to develop your skills, knowledge and understanding and to talk and share with other young people. You will be able to use these opportunities to support your work with your community.

Your participation in OIYP will start in April 2007. If selected, you must be available to attend an event in October 2007 in Sydney, Australia.

OIYP is open to all nationalities, Indigenous and ethnic groups. It is open to young people with any level of education and who live in rural or urban areas. We aim to recruit equal numbers of young men and women. We have a strong focus on the participation of Indigenous young people and those marginalised in their communities.

To apply you must be:
   a.. aged between 18 and 25 as at 1 October, 2007
   b.. speak English or Spanish
To apply download an application form. Your application will be assessed against selection criteria. See the application form for more details:

Applications close on 31 January 2007


In the spotlight: Betty Nassaka
My journey to the first women humanist organisation in Uganda

Betty Nassaka is one of the founders of the women humanist organisation in Uganda. This personal story tells how she developed her critical and independed mind in a country where women are not treated equally due to many religious and traditional practices.

I grew up in a family that worships both God and gods. My stepfather, who was a traditional healer, would go to church with my mother on Sundays (my father was killed during liberation war). My parents were so rude to me that whenever I would ask any of them a question, I was answered with a question.

After noticing that most of my stepfather’s clients were victims of AIDS, I asked him one day why most of his clients could eventually die? He just asked me whether he was God. Another time, I questioned my mother on why they were going to church and yet she had other gods too, she instead asked me if there is anyone who had ever forced me to go to church or to a shrine.

I stopped asking them any questions. Instead, I started on my path of thinking for myself and looking for logical answers to the questions I would create.

I prayed to God several times when I was a kid. I prayed to God to rescue me from working in the garden, which was my major problem by then. God never helped me. I hated and cursed God for this. Instead of going to church on Sundays like the rest, I was ordered to dig a piece of ground that I never completed on Saturday and to collect firewood for the shrine. On Mondays, I was then punished for not attending Sunday school. I got tired of praying to God and finally thought of an idea that could save me from digging. I began surprising my mother by waking up very early, cleaning the house, preparing tea and washing the utensils. My mum was very happy and stopped me from working in the garden so that I could concentrate on domestic work. That experience made me realize that reasoning for myself without basing this on God could help me to overcome a problem.

That didn't yet stop me completely from praying to God. I prayed to God to stop Satan from attempting me to climb the old man’s mango tree. Result: I never stopped. I never stopped, until I thought of fetching water in exchange for the mangoes. That taught me that God would not help me to behave well. From then onwards, I believed that I could conduct myself well without the guidance of God.


My mind kept asking inquisitive and critical questions. How strong were the gods? When I was fifteen years old, I wanted to check whether the gods in the grass-thatched shrines could prevent it from catching fire. When I tested, the shrines burnt as if there was paraffin. I tried to control the fire but all was in vain. Funny enough, the gods purported to tell my stepfather that the shrine was burnt by our neighbour. Since then, I started also doubting the fear for the gods. I learnt that miracles, superstitution and all forms of supernatural world were myth.

Approaching humanism

When I studied about evolution in my secondary school, I got a good chance to further enhance my spirit of skepticism about my environment. I learnt that a human being is an evolutionary product of nature. I developed rationalism during my practical work in classes of chemistry, biology and physics. The experiments posed a lot of puzzling questions: I asked my religious education teacher why he could not explain what he was teaching scientifically.

Having gradually developed a critical and independed mind, I came 1997 in contact with the Ugandan Humanist Association. I was at the college and my science tutor Deo Ssekitooleko together with other UHASSO members, conducted a seminar on human rights. During this seminar, they discouraged corporal punishments and gave us some books with humanist information.

When I was out of college, I kept in touch with Deo and he always sent me copies of the USFree Inquiry magazine. Through these books, I discovered that religion was a product of human fantasy, fanatism and unreason intended to exploit and enslave the weak and ignorant. Like Timothy Madigan wrote in the Free Inquiry 1995: ”The purpose of religion is to provide answers to unquestionable questions, to in a sense to stop us from thinking unproductively”.

In 2002, I joined the Uganda Humanist Association- Youth (UHASSO Youth), which helped me to become more active with humanism. Being active in UHASSO, I started looking at sexism, racism and other forms of oppression. I began to look at reality in its entirety. Through free and critical inquiry, I am now aware that we should always pursue knowledge and explain our ignorance of the universe though we may never answer all the questions about life.

I took my own destiny in my hands. Together with a few other women we decided to form the first Ugandan women humanist association. And this year we managed to launch the organisation.


The Ugandan Humanist Effort to Save Women (UHASWO) was inaugurated by Levi Fragell and Babu Gogeneni on 17 th June this year. It is founded purposely to attract more young Ugandan women into humanism.

We were with only a few ladies in UHASSO, yet the cultures and religions in Uganda are exploiting, oppressing and cheating women mostly. I realized that it was important to start UHESWO through which issues that affect the women’s humanity will be addressed. UHESWO puts human being at the center with no regards to social status, life choice, creed or ethnicity. Advocacy for women’s rights and women’s welfare is the core of UHESWO.

IHEYO YouthSpeak! … nothing but Rationality, Human and Scientific development.

Editor: Gea Meijers
Assistant Editors: Yemi Johnson, Lars-Petter Helgestad

For comments and suggestions, e-mail: office(at)