The Humanist Service Corps (HSC) is an international volunteering program guided by the principles of secular humanism.
HSC focuses on protecting human rights by meeting basic needs. Human rights abuses occur most commonly where people have insufficient access to education, healthcare, and jobs. HSC collaborates with local organizations and individuals to provide these basic needs and empower members of the local community.
The care and thoughtfulness which the Humanist Service Corps brings to this process:
HSC volunteers live on-site for a year while working on initiatives to improve the lives of hundreds of local people.
The Humanist Service Corps is the only international volunteering program guided by the values of humanism. Why does that matter? Because humanist service must be effective, sustainable, and responsible. (See HSC’s Principles of Service.)
What makes the Humanist Service Corps so unique? It’s not just that HSC allows nonreligious individuals to volunteer together -- it’s how HSC asks volunteers to serve. HSC sets itself apart from more conventional secular volunteering programs by covering program costs and providing stipends. This demonstrates HSC's focus on the skills volunteers bring to the program rather than the experience the program provides volunteers. It also ensures that this challenging and rewarding opportunity is open to volunteers from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds.
HSC partners with grassroots organizations to achieve effective and culturally responsible change. This enables HSC volunteers to:
Within this fundamentally collaborative framework, HSC volunteers do not provide direct services to the community. Instead, volunteers work to increase the capacity of the partner organizations to provide direct services.
In order to serve effectively, volunteers first learn and adapt. HSC volunteers each have their own unique expertise to offer, but it takes time to understand how that expertise can be applied in the local context and to build the relationships necessary for successful capacity-building. HSC works to minimize the visibility of its volunteers and maximize the visibility of its partner organizations, because the face of change should always be a local one.
HSC currently partners with two human rights organizations in the Northern Region of Ghana. Although Ghana is generally well-developed, the drought-prone Northern Region has poverty and illiteracy rates above 75% -- 2 to 3 times the national average.
These and other factors create an environment in which human rights abuses are common. Elderly women are often blamed for misfortunes in their families and communities, accused of witchcraft, and lynched. To escape violence and death, they must leave behind their homes, families, and possessions to seek refuge in one of the camps for victims of witchcraft accusations.
Although the elderly women are relatively safe from violence once they are in exile, they are subjected to harsh living conditions and further abuses in the camps where they seek safety. Women usually remain in camp for rest of their lives.
HSC partners with two local organizations working toward:
HSC volunteers help these local organizations in the areas of program structure, facilitation, communications, fundraising, and measurement and evaluation.