This project was set up in 1998 to support Fields of Life (FOL), which was a small church based charity building schools in poverty stricken areas of Uganda. After fund-raising efforts, St. Finnian’s sent out a team of men in 1999, who, along with Ballywalter and Kilkeel parishes, completed the building of a primary school. In the same year the church partially funded the building of another school.

Over the years, while continuing to build schools, FOL has also built four small hospitals / clinics in Uganda. In addition to volunteer workers and ongoing financial support, St Finnian’s has sent out four containers packed with supplies to equip both schools and hospitals.

FOL has now expanded its work into surrounding countries, including Burundi, Rwanda, D.R.Congo, Kenya and South Sudan.

In keeping with the original vision, the Parish continues to support FOL and this includes its wider work in East Africa. Consequently, in 2009, the Parish and the Bishop’s Appeal jointly funded the building of a school in Burundi, which was named ‘St. Finnian’s’.

It is for banking purposes only now that the name remains “St Finnian’s Uganda Project”.

The Parish continues to be involved in school building, school health, hospitals and child sponsorship projects. In 2015 we supported the ‘Crisis’ appeals in South Sudan and Burundi.  Towards the end of the year a donation was also sent to drill further wells in impoverished and volatile Northern Uganda.

Could you help?

There are many opportunities to help in this work, not least in prayer, supporting fund raising events or giving personal donations. Many have also arranged legacies, given donations in memory or celebration of loved ones, or in lieu of flowers.

New helpers are always welcome in St Finnian’s “Helping Hands for Uganda” teams. These teams either serve or provide sandwiches and tray bakes at funeral teas held in the church hall. The income is given to the Project.

FOL welcomes volunteers to help on its projects in East Africa. In addition to having a resident building team in Uganda, each year FOL sends out a construction team of volunteers from Northern Ireland for a period of two weeks. A number of our parishioners, supported by the Parish, have gone out to Uganda with this team (Hope Builders). Building skills are not essential, although a fit and healthy disposition is required for this type of work.

Volunteers are also needed in FOL teaching, healthcare and care of orphans projects for periods of two weeks or longer. Would you consider going?

Fields of Life Update – September 2016

Over the past year, the main focus of Fields of Life’s (FOL) work has been  ensuring sustainability, quality and accountability for its programmes in  Central and East Africa.

During this period the all encompassing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Programme, which merges the Health and Water programmes, has resulted in the improvement of the health and quality of life for thousands of people.  80 new wells have been drilled, providing clean water for nearly 25,000  people.   240 new latrines were constructed.   99 communities were sensitised on hygiene and sanitation.   33,063 children were de-wormed. 176 teachers were trained in health, management and counselling.   The ‘I AM GIRL’ programme continues to be expanded through the schools and villages, changing and educating tribal beliefs regarding young  adolescent girls. This enables girls to continue their education and take their place as decision makers in their communities or become qualified in their chosen career.
FOL hosts an annual conference and several regional workshops which focus on teacher training, quality education and good management of schools.  It is the intention to erect and administer a Vocational Training College for  students and a Teacher Training College in the near future.  Many past FOL pupils now hold positions of influence in the community and the country in general.  A number of past pupils have formed a working group in Kampala and intend to raise funding locally to build a FOL school in Uganda.

In South Sudan, after many hold ups due to security issues, the first phase of a church partnered school has been completed.  This includes 4 classrooms and 2 blocks of four stance latrines.  The 2nd phase is now under  construction.  This means children are no longer taught under trees or in the small church, which was burned down.  FOL has fulfilled its promise by  drilling 11 wells in this area. On their initial visit, the children pleaded, ‘Visitors, when you go, please remember us’.  Unfortunately the region is still subject to considerable violence which makes progress difficult.

On 17th September we sent a donation of £5000 to FOL.  This will be used to help complete the construction of the above school in South Sudan.  Thanks again to all who help us support the poor in Africa, particularly the ladies (and men) in the ‘Helping Hands for Uganda’ team.

We intend to run a fund raising event next year, when we will have ‘The Live Issue’ Country Gospel Group.  This 5 piece band has performed in The Grand Old Oprey in Nashville, USA and throughout the UK and Ireland.  More details to follow.   J.D.

Uganda Project Committee Members:

Main Contact: John Downey (Coordinator) Tel: 028 9044 8757

Hon. Secretary: Alison Kennedy

Hon. Treasurer: Stephen Geoghegan

Committee Members: Barbara Carlisle, Geoff Harman and Rev. Raymond Kettyle


Children in Rapha

Rural children near Rapha, Uganda