Sunday, November 1, 2009

One Laptop Per Child

I've been wanting to add a couple new features to ATAT. I'm a big believer in forming an atheist community, not just outlets for intellectual expression, but also for forming friendships and establishing some of the social context for discussing all kids of issues, not just those about the first amendment, or biology, or Mormons, or his noodly appendage.

One of the most positive benefits I experienced from church community* was the share sense of responsibility for mankind. This was in the post-cult, Vineyard and Episcopalian years, but even as a young girl I enjoyed picking which charity I wanted to give my weekly ten cent tithe to. So I've been thinking a lot about how we could incorporate some of those same conversations about giving an charity and the good work we contribute to - with our finances, time, or energy - and kind of remind the world that we care, too. Not having any gods hasn't stopped us from caring about others; many of us who used to believe feel a more pressing need to take care of the most vulnerable on our planet, since we no longer think their struggles or suffering will all be made right in an afterlife.

November is breast cancer awareness month, and I lost my godmother - the most kind and affectionate maternal figure I had - to breast cancer April 19, 2007 and it still hurts. But I'm seeing myself more and more as someone who champions children's rights and children's causes So, while I'm sure the folks at the Susan G. Koman Foundation would be glad of a donation, this month I've decided to feature One Laptop Per Child.

The mission of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. In order to accomplish our goal, we need people who believe in what we’re doing and want to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege.

OLPC’s mission is to provide a means for learning, self-expression, and exploration to the nearly two billion children of the developing world with little or no access to education. While children are by nature eager for knowledge, many countries have insufficient resources to devote to education—sometimes less than $20 per year per child (compared to an average of $7,500 in the United States). By giving children their very own connected XO laptop, we are giving them a window to the outside world, access to vast amounts of information, a way to connect with each other, and a springboard into their future. And we’re also helping these countries develop an essential resource—educated, empowered children.

The internet led me to atheism. Google helped me discover my grandmother was a cult leader. The pro-anorexia movement, for all its faults, kept me alive and somewhat sane during the darkest years of my life. We all know how empowering the internet can be, and how much someone with little money can learn - and how connected they can be with other ideas and other people - if they have access to the free information and communication on the web.

For everyone who wished you could donate to the Atheist Association of Uganda, here is one way you can help children in Uganda and other parts of the world, living amidst superstition, war, and ignorance. If you have the funds and would like to support this charity, you can go here to donate to One Laptop per Child. For $199 US you can buy a laptop for a child in th developing world (which used to called third-world.) If you'd like to promote this charity yourself, I'd greatly appreciate it. I think this is a wonderful secular charity with goals we can all get behind.

*I said it was a positive aspect of the community, not the religion so don't get all excited, theist readers :)