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 – May 2019
FOL currently has 120 schools across Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Uganda and South Sudan.
Three drilling rigs have completed more than 720 boreholes providing fresh clean water for more than 700,000 people.
The WASH programme, which stands for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, has been developed and incorporates Fields of Life water & health promotion projects through the provision of a safe water supply, adequate sanitation facilities and appropriate hygiene promotion practices to vulnerable communities.
In areas where boreholes aren’t an option, due to the geology, other options are being explored for supplying water, including the protection of natural springs, rainwater harvesting tanks, shallow wells and water filters.
The I AM GIRL programme continues to be rolled out across FOL schools. I AM GIRL is a health education initiative which seeks to improve the attendance of adolescent girls in school. It is FOL’s goal to educate boys, girls, teachers, parents and community members within their school network on issues such as gender equality, menstrual hygiene management, gender based violence and child protection. It aims to improve the personal hygiene and health of young girls through the provision of reliable water sources, better washing facilities and appropriate sanitary protection.
Through FOL there are more than 6,000 children being sponsored.
The Fields of Life Alumni also continues to grow since it was set up in 2015 by a group of Fields of Life formerly sponsored children. These inspirational young people want to actively contribute towards the Fields of Life vision by becoming committed ambassadors and giving back, as they once received. One of their first projects is to work together to raise money to build a primary school in Karamoja, Northern Uganda. Karamoja is one of the poorest regions in Uganda and the Alumni group aim to enable vulnerable and disadvantaged children in this area to attain a quality education in the same manner that they did.
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