Morning Plenary: Creating Humanist Leaders

A session at American Humanist Association 74th Annual Conference

Friday 8th May, 2015

9:00am to 9:50am (MST)

A New Model for Third World Development: Creating Humanist Leaders from Disadvantaged Children in Nepal

Until 2004 Nepal was the world’s only Hindu monarchy. Yet, after a 10 year civil war establishing a republic and ousting the king, the source of much of Nepal’s problems remains — a de facto caste system, with high caste and corrupt political parties still holding much of the power and thwarting reforms.

Since 2001, ANSWER has been educating over 1000 disadvantaged children from the lower rungs of society all over Nepal. We are now graduating 100 young people from college each year and placing them into professional careers — doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, social workers, businessmen. Their success is breaking down barriers and dispelling stereotypes of low caste inferiority.

Against all odds, including the brain drain, ANSWER’s new cadre of leaders remains in Nepal committed to serve their countrymen. Our Alums have now begun to make ANSWER their own by paying it forward, selecting and educating other disadvantaged children. They have been able to transcend their backgrounds to become humanists, exhibiting inclusion, respect, and service to all.

How? We establish social consciousness within our students by demonstrating humanist ideals through films, activities, and by our own example. As one Humanist it, “Become the change you want to see in the world.” [Gandhi]. Join us!


Earle Canfield, now a retired physician assistant, began his visits to Nepal in 1994 volunteering in a hospital for disabled children. After enrolling a street girl in a private school, he began to find many disadvantaged children who could excel and compete with the privileged. In 2001, he founded ANSWER to develop a new breed of leaders from Nepal’s marginalized communities. Today, having educated 1200 students, including hundreds in colleges and in careers, a new social force is on the horizon, dedicated to helping the poor and developing their own country rather than falling prey to corruption and the brain drain. This is the story of how teaching and modeling humanist values can impact a developing nation.

Earle has received recognition and accolades from the Grand Rapids Press, The Michigan Educational Association, Congressman Vern Ehlers, and the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

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Earle Canfield

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Time 9:00am9:50am MST

Date Fri 8th May 2015

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