The Parenta Trust has partnered with Fields of Life, an organisation on the ground in Africa. Debbie Cameron, Head of Development & Fundraising (GB) for Fields of Life, tells us about her experiences with the charity and how and why The Parenta Trust was born.
I was first introduced to Fields of Life in the summer of 2012, when I joined a group of business leaders from Kent on a fact finding visit to a number of Fields of Life (FOL) projects throughout Uganda. FOL has been building schools and digging fresh water wells in post-conflict East Africa for the past 20 years. Our aim is simply to bring about positive change through the provision of quality education, clean water, health promotion and other community based projects to help relieve poverty. We are currently involved in projects in a number of countries including Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
Having spent time hitch-hiking through Africa, I thought that I was prepared for the experiences that lay ahead of me, that my earlier travels would have set me in good stead to face the challenges of life in Uganda… and, naively, I boldly marched straight in on the first day to Pastor Deo’s school in the slums of Kampala armed with nothing more than a big smile, but I was bowled over by the response that we received. In our group was a mixture of different businesses: Parenta, CFA, Southern Water, Oasis, Family Business Place, Amelix, together with a heating engineer, a pharmacy assistant and myself. We all went out as strangers with one common goal and, over our short visit, formed a bond with the shared objective to make a real difference to the lives of the people we met. It was during this first morning that Parenta Trust was born.
The children couldn’t wait to show off their school. Their pride was immense and you could see that the money being raised was making a huge different to so many families. It was an incredibly humbling experience. Education next to water is the most vital gift, and the children all felt blessed to be given the opportunity to learn and eventually help raise their families out of poverty.
Our next day we were up early on a bus heading north to a village called Acede where FOL were drilling a well. We travelled for hours in our small bus, and sometime after lunch we arrived to the most amazing welcoming committee. We were greeted by the elders and chief of the village. They gave us refreshments, welcomed us into their homes and told us the story of their village… and none of us were prepared for the tale that unfolded in front of us; how the so called Lords Resistance Army had arrived one night and scarred this small community for life. Rounding up the young – the boys fate was one of transformation into the newest recruits of this bloody army and the girls as sex slaves for the soldiers. Setting fire to huts and carving their way through anyone who dared to stand in their way. One man I met was 82yrs old and he had witness horrors that are unimaginable, yet he had an inspirational spirit for life. The children were beautiful, but had so little. Before leaving the UK we had all been collecting useful treasures to take with us as gifts for our hosts and for the villagers at Acede it was children’s clothes… I had collected items from various friends and family the weeks before leaving and between us we handed out hundreds of items. The Chief of the village presented us with a letter of appreciation setting out how the well will make a difference to their lives. Every one of us on was touched by the generosity and love that we experienced on this day, by this tiny remote village.
The Fields of Life was established when Reverend Trevor Stevenson initiated an agricultural project, which involved buying and setting up a 110 acre farm, 16 km from Kampala, in an area once known as The Killing Fields. Two years later, at the request of local villagers, the Fields of Life built their first school building, close to the farm. Since then, school building has become a major part of our work. Through this work, 45,000 children receive an education and learn basic skills, encouraging them to take on income generating projects. In January of this year I was invited to head up a new FOL initiative in GB and look forward to introducing the wonders of East Africa to as many people as possible and to build upon some of the exciting projects that were created as a result of my first trip… Amelix Telecom’s Save More Than Money, Family Business Place Well Good Campaign and of course the sensational Parenta Trust Maidstone to Monaco Banger Rally.
Those sparks of inspiration have continued to blossom, as do the children that many of us sponsor. Just £17 per month provides an Education, two meals everyday and a school uniform, books and a real chance in life.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you feel inspired to get involved. We are hosting a Fact Find Trip on 29th May to visit the first Parenta Trust funded nursery school. Or maybe you’d like to join us on the drive to build our second nursery school on this year’s Banger Rally to Monaco on 25th June. Or maybe perhaps you have some ideas of your own!
To sponsor a child, attend the next visit to Uganda or support in other ways, please register your interest.
Or you can make a donation to the next pre-school through our Just Giving page!