Monday, 7 February 2011

Non-prophet week: Update 1

A short while back I wrote about how, contrary to what a some religious people think, non-believers give aid too, and now with the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student SocieitiesNon-prophet Week, we really get to show that is the case!

Non-prophet week has been organised as a series of events running from today to next Sunday, with nearly 20 student societies across the UK all banding together. Raising money for charity has always been high on the agenda for the Aston Humanists so we jumped at the chance to be involved!

Here’s a run-down of the events that we’ve organised and the charities that we are supporting and how they are going so far:

From 9pm last Thursday (that’s 97 hours and counting!) Aston Humanist, Emma Moseley, has not spoken a single word as part of a sponsored silence to raise money for Volunteers for Educational Support and Learning. Through VESL, Emma will be going to India in August to spend 4 months as a volunteer in Andhra Pradesh (Southern India), running English activity lessons within 3 local schools during the school day and running after-school clubs as well as generally helping to care for the orphans as many will be disabled or HIV positive. At the time of writing she’s more than half way to her £500 fund-raising target. You can sponsor her on her JustGiving page.

I myself have once again managed to marry my twin passions of running and charity by setting myself the challange of running 5km every morning for the duration of Non-prophet week. All the money raised will go to Amnesty International. You can sponsor me here, either as a lump some, or per km that I run.

I started the first of my 5km runs this morning in not exactly the best shape, having spent the weekend in Manchester at the rationalist-oriented QED conference, but still managed a time of 24:01, which I’m pretty pleased with.

One of our members, who has moved on to pastures new, has promised to treble their donation if I beat my personal best of 20:42, so the pressure’s on! I’m planning on running 7 different routes, both for a little variety and to prove that I’m not cheating (it's all recorded on my GPS watch). Here’s the route from this morning.

We’ve also planned a series of bake sales throughout the week. Today, Nick Martin baked a batch of his special, secret recipe white chocolate brownies, which went down an absolute storm! The whole lot sold out in 45 minutes and we had countless people telling us how delicious they were! With £2s worth of ingredients we managed to raise £30 for Book Aid International, a charity that promotes literacy by providing books to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Having a collection bucket really helped as, more often than not, the people that didn’t want a brownie still chucked in a few pence. It all adds up! No cakes tomorrow but I’ll be out and about on campus with the bucket during my lunch break.

For Wednesday we’ve got more cakes planned. Jack Hooker’s baking some of his mind-bogglingly multi-coloured cupcakes, honorary humanist member Emma Birkett’s baked some toffee and apple muffins (the apples are from her garden!), and my very lovely wife will be baking something too (although the first she might know about that is when she reads this). The money from Wednesday’s bake sale and the next day’s bucket shake will go to One World Action, a charity that helps marginalised populations, with a particular focus on women’s rights.

On Friday 11th we thought we’d mix it up a little and organise a Donation Station so that people who don’t much spare cash can still contribute by donating unwanted items. We’ll be accepting anything and everything in good conditions, with everything we collect donated to a Barnardo’s charity shop. Non-prophet week won’t end on the Friday though, I still have the last of my runs on Saturday and Sunday morning!

It’s definitely been tougher than previously to raise money, which is understandable given the financially constrained times we are in, but the support we’ve had so far has been great, and we’re all the more appreciative for it. We've decided to spread the money we raise across a number of difference charities to reflect the diverse causes that humanists and our society in particular support.

At the time of writing we’ve raised around £350!