IF husband and wife Noel and Jeanette Gibson, and friend George Jackson, are tempted to feel a little sorry for themselves as they brave the cold during their 24-hour sit-out over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, they will only have to think back to their emotional visit to Uganda in October to remember how fortunate they are.
The trio were among 17 volunteers, including nine from the Portadown area, who travelled to the African country to visit Fields of Life projects they had been fundraising for.
And after experiencing first-hand the extreme poverty of many Ugandan families, Noel, wife Jeanette and George are to brave freezing temperatures for a sit-out in Portadown town centre between noon on Monday, December 31 and noon on January 1, 2013. The aim is to raise much needed funds to help with Fields of Life school projects, including Ongoromo in northern Uganda.
Jeanette, who was one of two Fields of Life team leaders on the October trip to Uganda, said the visit had inspired the idea for a sit-out in Portadown.
“This was Noel’s first time to an actual Fields of Life event out there and he was particularly moved by the great poverty that we saw,” she said. “It affected him very much and when one of the group from Ballymoney told us about the sit-out they had done up there, we thought it would be a good idea to do one in Portadown.”
While many people will spend New Year’s Eve socialising, the sit-out trio will be at the mercy of the elements. But Jeanette is looking forward to the experience.
Said Jeanette, “A few others will come and go over the course of the 24 hours, but it will mainly be myself, Noel and George. All of the Fields of Life team will be in and out to give us their support. We plan to have tea and coffee and everyone is welcome to call in for a chat.
“We have a gazebo but we feel that a trailer would be warmer during the night. We are going to wrap up well in our sleeping bags, and hopefully it won’t be too cold. Hopefully we will get people coming out of the Watch Night service at midnight and giving us some company.”
Jeanette has been volunteering with Fields of Life for 10 years and October was her fifth visit to Uganda. She said people here cannot comprehend the poverty experienced by so many of the population, and in particular children.
She explained, “The poverty is so great, it’s honestly unbelievable. Whenever you see it, it really makes you realise that we have far too much here. We waste things, especially food. In contrast they have so little. Many of the children there cannot go to school because the families can’t afford it and that’s why we’re trying to sponsor schools and help improve things.”
In October, the Fields of Life team visited a school at Ongoromo where the children had very poor facilities. Primary 1 class had lessons under a mango tree. A new school is being built there and through the generosity of a number of people the team was able to contribute £24,000 to this project.
They would like to express their sincere thanks to all who supported them. At other Fields of Life projects a new borehole was provided, a school garden put in place to grow food for the children, a dormitory block for orphan children was painted and new book shelving for two schools provided.
Jeanette has asked everyone in Portadown to contribute to the sit-out fund. All money raised will go towards Fields of Life.