What's In Store For IAA
2020 will probably be remembered as a bad year and one to forget due to the pandemic. But it wasn’t all bad - especially for International Association of Atheists. 2020 was the year the organization was founded and we had a great start. We raised over $15,000 for worthwhile campaigns such as the Congo orphans, a secular school program in India, equipment to make sanitary pads in the Congo to keep girls in school and contributions to Free Hearts, Free Minds so they can continue to provide emotional support to atheists who live in fear. In addition, our Secular Underground Network (SUN) has taken on over 20 cases. After nine months in operation, we have close to 200 members and 40 Partners. So while many of us will regard this past year as one of lockdowns, fear and societal divisiveness, we at IAA will remember it as the year it all got started.
As with many new organizations, there were changes. The biggest is that we are now fully Canadian. Our American counterpart resigned in the fall to focus on issues there. That left IAA with a Canadian Executive and an American charity which did not work. It was a huge challenge operating the organization from one country while the incorporation and bank account were in another. In November we started the process of moving IAA to Canada. We are now incorporated in Canada with Canadian bank accounts and Paypal. An application to become a registered charity in Canada has also been filed. It was a lot of work but now that it’s been done, we can focus on the future. We should also point out that this does not mean we only want to deal with Canadians. IAA is an International organization and welcomes members and supporters from around the world. Next year we will focus on growing our presence in Europe and the UK along with North America.
We are incredibly proud of work done with our Secular Underground Network. In less than a year, we have set up a secure system to record all requests, a process for vetting requests, case management so each request is given adequate time and resources, and financial assistance. The cases we work on are typically average, everyday citizens who find themselves in trouble because they are non-believers. The overwhelming majority are from Muslim countries although we are starting to get more requests from Sub-Sahara Africa. We are also getting more calls for help from women. The situations are often complex and require a lot of time researching options. Our team meets every week to review the cases. Increasingly we are finding that many atheists just need a few hundred dollars to get through a crisis. Raising money for SUN will be a priority for IAA.
At IAA, we strongly believe in cooperation and coordination, especially when it comes to helping atheists around the world. It is beyond sad that an individual who fears for his or her life because they are an atheist, must contact numerous organizations. Then each organization must vet the person and find out if other groups are also assisting that person. A lot of time and efforts are wasted by duplication of work. It is our goal and one we will continue to promote in 2021, that all secular organizations work together to help atheists and coordinate efforts.
Our second focus is Secular Education. Providing children with a good, secular education is one of the best ways we can think of to make the world a better place. We will continue to support the network of Humanist schools in Uganda. Often providing secular education is more than just building or maintaining schools. It can also be after-school programs, critical thinking sessions, teacher training and assistance to families so their children’s education is not interrupted. We look forward to expanding the number of projects in this area and hope to reach many more students around the world.
What we accomplished in 2020 and what we hope to do in 2021 depends on our supporters. You are key to all of this. You have been extremely generous in the past and we can only hope your generosity continues. We also need your feedback on how you think we are doing and we need volunteers. Let’s make 2021 a great year - let’s hope the pandemic ends and IAA continues to enjoy great success.