In deprived and impoverished areas of East Africa, the Fields of Life (FOL) built schools are educating over 50,000 children. These are sustained by the local churches (who normally take responsibility for the stewardship of the school), by Child Sponsorship and a strict inspection regime by FOL personnel.

You will appreciate that in remote areas a number of the teachers are not qualified but follow the National Curriculum under the guidance of senior staff. FOL has now set up a new project which entails bringing the school teachers and school management committees from 5 of these schools together at any one time. On these residential courses, teachers are instructed and supported in how to deliver high quality lessons and the management committees in how to promote good governance and leadership. There is also provision for improved teaching and infrastructure facilities where necessary. This will provide a positive impact on the education of thousands of children.

Our Uganda Committee recently sent a donation of £6000 to FOL to help fund this project currently operating in Rwanda. This has been made possible through the hard work of our volunteers and supporters in Helping Hands for Uganda. We are very appreciative for your commitment over the years and also the generosity of all who have given donations.

You may have heard on the news recently how poverty and malnourishment not only affect the physical wellbeing of children but also reduce the power of the brain to develop properly. This has an adverse effect on the child’s ability to learn. FOL has been aware of this for many years and supply at least one cooked meal to pupils each day. Many children arrive at school without having eaten food since the previous day.

With its significant experience in primary and secondary education, FOL along with the Diocese of Northern Uganda, has embarked on an ambitious project at Gulu in Northern Uganda. Over a 5 year period it is developing a large Vocational Training Institute covering several acres which will provide business, technical, agri and skills training for school leavers in an area that has been traumatised by conflict. The college will have boarding facilities and can cater for students from different areas of East Africa. Our universities and colleges in Ireland are involved in this project, in addition to funding and support from America.

When we think of Africa, we often envisage violence, war, corruption, poverty, disease and famine. However there is another emerging story to tell, a new Africa full of the immense vibrancy of young people, of hope, joy and educational opportunities taking place. God has led FOL to be part of that story and we in St. Finnian’s are privileged to be part of the FOL family.