Three Year Partnership with Fields of Life

18th November 2016

I am excited that Fields of Life and Girls' Brigade Northern Ireland are entering into a three year partnership launching in September 2016 building further on the connections established through our "I AM GIRL" initiative in recent months.

I believe there is tremendous synergy between the organisations as Girls' Brigade encourages girls to "Seek, Serve and Follow Christ" in Northern Ireland. This also encapsulates the very heart and mission of FOL as we seek to introduce young people in East Africa to the life changing reality of Jesus as we partner with local churches to provide access to education whereby young people, especially girls, can learn, grow and develop into change makers in their community.

Nelson Mandela once said, "Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world". Hundreds of thousands of East African children, who are living in extreme poverty, are without education. For them, an education is literally a chance for survival, a lifeline where they will get an opportunity to contribute to their community as well as their nation's much needed development. We believe the provision of education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty and at the very heart of our mission.

We especially have a concern for young girls in East Africa who are often overlooked and are not afforded the same educational opportunities as boys as they are required to stay at home and undertake household tasks, are often forced into early marriage and do not have access to sanitary provision therefore meaning a large number of those who are in school often drop out and do not complete their education. This is a modern day scandal and we want to stand up and speak out against it. Jesus, in the scriptures, met people where they were and broke through social and cultural taboos with a radical message of grace and mercy that all are loved and cherished by God, the Father.

In September 2014, we launched the I AM GIRL initiative to commit to ensuring girls are empowered to complete their education and to grow into strong, healthy young women and that in time their children will also have the same opportunities. I AM GIRL is committed to educating both boys and girls, men and women, within our school network in East Africa to address the challenges faced by young girls today. At Fields of Life, we believe all girls are entitled to dignity and a future, and have the potential to be change agents in their families, communities and nations.

As Girls' Brigade approach their 125th anniversary, I am personally very excited that the GB network throughout Northern Ireland is committing to raising sufficient funds to build a school in Uganda. This is going to provide opportunity and hope for hundreds and thousands of young people in the years to come.

I look forward to young girls from within Girls' Brigade Northern Ireland companies to also have the opportunity to travel to Uganda to meet with young girls and boys in Uganda and learn from each other and make their contribution to the development of this exciting project over the years.

Please pray for guidance and wisdom for the senior leadership teams of Fields of Life and GBNI as we decide on the location of the school and especially for the leadership team from GBNI that will travel to Uganda for the first time in November 2016 to look at various options.

Together we can make a difference. Together we can choose to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. Together we are invited to participate in God's extraordinary adventure of mission in East Africa. It is going to be an adventure!

In love Richard Spratt CEO Fields of Life

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