On the 1st of July 1967 a young man called Bernard Phelan one of six children was ordained by Bishop Casey at St Peter in Chains Church, Womersley Road, Hornsey. N8 9AE as a Mill Hill Father.

After his ordination he was sent to Uganda which at that time was quite peaceful and prosperous. He was full of misgiving and didn’t know what to expect and was appointed to one of the most rural areas you could imagine.  For a city boy, born in North London, this was quite a challenge.

On that day also a process started when family and friends in the Parish including Paddy and Michael Phelan, Sam Ewing and Howard McBrien started a parish organisation to support Bernard in his work. It was called ‘The Friends of Tororo Mission’ and soon after Paddy Phelan became the Honary Director.

FOTM (Friends of Tororo Mission) as it was afectionally called raised money over several early years in St Peters Parish Hornsey, North London to support the buying of ploughs, and other small projects in Fr. Bernard’s Mission in Eastern Uganda by organising fund raising Dances, Jumble Sales, Christmas Cards etc. Towards the end of running Jumble Sales we decided we loathed running them so much we collected amongst ourselves to enable the same money to be raised without all the stress…

1971 was a turning point in Uganda, as in January of that year; Idi Amin Dada staged a military coup.  Life became increasingly dangerous for everyone as the true nature of Amin’s evil rule became clearer.   The sudden expulsion of the Asian community in 1972 with all the human misery that it entailed, for many of them who had never known any other home, led to the immediate break down of all the infrastructures.  The most life threatening was the collapse of the health services. SPICMA (then still FOTM) was asked to move into a higher gear to help the Missionaries on the ground provide medical help to people in the East of Uganda.

By now the organisation was working not just in Tororo Parish, so to be less pariocal it was decided it was necessary to change the name from Friends of Tororo Mission to St. Peter in Chains Missionary Association i.e. SPICMA and from that point on we started appealing for funds for our ever growing number of projects by mailings and advertising in the Catholic Press nationally. The area of work now

(George Apicella RIP putting labels on a medicinal shipment at Holloway North London)                               evolved into a much larger area of operation including airfreighting tonnages of medicines into Uganda which were packed night times after work in Holloway, North London, (this could not have happened without the help of John Elkins another member of the St Peters originals) who opened his Micanite warehouse to receive goods on our behalf  including a set of the keys so that we could pack at night times if he was not there to help

By October 1975 the original organisation had now grown substantially. It was agreed by all that a Charitable Trust Deed would now be prudent move and this was registered.  From that day The St Peter in Chains Missionary Association, was changed into SPECIAL PROJECTS IN CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY AREAS still with the same logo and abbreviation i.e. SPICMA Charity Reg.No.270794

Subsequently new groups were also formed in Pennyburn in Derry which took on the title of SPICMA in Derry. And other Groups evolved in Whitstable (The Kidetok Fund) and in Fenham, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Our band of volunteers now grew more numerous as we had had to enlarge our operation in the UK. Nothing was available in Uganda. We were now shipping medicines out by air from Stanstead with Servisair on the then Uganda Airlines, which was also known for shipping in whisky for Amin and his cronies.  In Uganda FR Paul Crowley MHM RIP became the driving force for most of those busy years in Uganda. And it was The White Fathers through their organisation Interservice who then cleared all aid shipments.

In the UK the administration side was beginning to crumble at the edges as all of us had full time jobs but we were suddenly blessed by the offer of secretarial help from George Apicella who transformed our accounting/secretarial work answered all our donors and kept the whole record on a 5×3 Card Index. He was the backbone behind the scenes and worked with us for many many years.

(Right: The early days packing outside my house in Loughton with Mill Hill Students).

Because of the quantities we were now shipping we decided to ship the less urgent aid by Sea Containers which was far cheaper than by Air Freight… And so started the period of some years that we spent at The MILL HILL FATHERS (then) head office at Lawrence Street NW7. We were their many many Saturdays over many years to pack our 20ft and 40ft sea containers courtesy of the Mill Hill Fathers generosity outside their then head office in the grounds of Mill Hill. Over a period of many years we packed several hundreds of Wooden and Cardboard Crates and Sea containers, the 20ft and 40ft Sea Containers we purchased second hand with the help of Eric Derby of David Martin Shipping, which we filled with everything from drugs and powdered milk to hospital beds, medical equipment, dental equipment, numerous Landover ambulances, motor bikes, bicycles, corrugated steel, building materials, electrical parts, hundreds of Car, Truck and Tractor Tyres, special three way fridges to maintain the cold system for vaccines, school Books and lots more items to numerous to list..  Not forgetting last but not least huge amounts of Medicine most of which were given by Drug Companies mainly Glaxo but also companies like Roche, May & Baker, Cox, etc. etc… Our grateful thanks though to Glaxo who gave us large quantities of donated drugs which quite often twenty or more pallets at a time. The majority of which we shipped into The Church Joint Medical Store in Kampala.  It would be no exaggeration to say we received literally thousands of Tons of medicine from these Donations. Through this very difficult period in Uganda. Because of the effectiveness and safe delivery of  our consignments the British Government paid for all of our air and sea freight costs during this period through the auspices of the then Overseas Development Agency.

As a scale to the size of some of the donations from Glaxo, on one occasion we were given a 40ft Sea container containing thousands of Streptomycin Injections. It had been shipped wrongly to South America and we were offered it as long as we reshipped it. We did! This was enough to keep the Church’s Joint Medical Store in Kampala which supplied all the Mission Units and Hospitals in Uganda in stock with Streptomycin Injections for well over a year. At this point we must mention the enormous debt of thanks that we owed to Brother Hans Vester mhm RIP. The Mill Hill backup would have never have got off the ground without his help and his continued assistance in storing deliveries of donated medicine and equipment for the periods in between the Sea Containers being packed and shipped. He also helped in many more ways including helping to pack these containers.

By 1978 with a civil war raging in Uganda we had outgrown the storage capacity of The Mill Hill Fathers Head Office in Lawrence Street. Because our shipments had continued to grow (we now used a forklift truck and pallets) we needed a lot more storage space plus office facilities to run the charity. Our thanks go to Michael and Eileen Sabini RIP for the use of their land and facilities for well over twenty years in Ardleigh in Essex and the helpers they brought in locally to help.

We were now shipping and storing food and all sorts of medical and construction equipment that the Church needed to build and rebuild the infrastructure in Eastern Uganda. With a Civil War still raging the Medical facilities in Uganda in many places had almost disappeared. It was the Church that stepped in to provide medical facilities i.e. mission health units and hospitals were built and it was SPICMA that procured the equipment, packed it into Sea Containers and shipped it. Our packing volunteers had now grown in numbers with several new faces. Old faces though were still with us on those special Saturdays including Bro Hans Vester mhm and Fr. George Saraber mhm

Fortuitously there during this period there was a lot of medical equipment available in the UK as the Health Service in the UK dwindled in size. On the condition that we cleared everything we received on occasions the whole basic equipment from hospitals that were closing, sometimes over 200 cast iron hospital beds at a time apart from other items we received. We were now using three warehouses at Ardleigh to store these items that were later sent to equip new medical units being constructed by the Church. All containers were still being purchased i.e. they were at the end of their shipping life and they were sent on one way trips and then left with the church for conversion into either secure storage or offices or other uses.  How many containers did we send? We don’t know truthfully we never counted – as soon as one left on its lorry it was forgotton. It was many.

One interesting fact it never rained whilst we were packing containers. Sometimes it stopped just before, sometimes it rained when we finished, and sometimes it rained nearby. To pack in the rain would have been not only dangerous with the heavy weights we were loading, but also if the boxed of medicines had been wet they would have deteriated in the sealed containers during the journey from the UK to Africa.

Apart from all the work that Michael Sabini did on our behalf there is one fitting memory that we retain when at the end of the day after loading a 20 or 40ft sea container when limbs were aching and people were tired and thirsty it was Michael who gallantly lead the way to the local hostelry and there encouraged all to raise their spirits both literally and metaphorically.

The Containers arrival in Uganda was always fraught with difficulties.  On one occasion a sea container had been stopped on the border with Kenya. There were some military coloured water jerry cans in it.  Some of Amin’s “intelligence” henchmen accused the Priests in Uganda of importing military equipment.  Happily they didn’t see the camouflage mosquito nets which were in the same container; otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to talk ourselves out of it.

Now that the situation in Uganda had deteriorated so badly we were called upon to assist not only with medicines, medical and building, equipment tyres etc. but ship large quantities of Milk Powder for youngsters and high energy biscuit food for mothers…  Fr. Bernard Phelan had contacted us with the news that he would never forget seeing a crowd of people streaming past his then Mission in Toroma, carrying sacks and basins.  They were going to the sub-county HQ to collect relief food and obviously happy at the prospect.    In the late afternoon he saw the same crowd now dejected dragging themselves back with empty containers.   The food had not arrived. Maybe it had been diverted as tends to happen there in those days…

It was to SPICMA that the Mill Hill Fathers in Uganda turned for help to assist these subsistence farmers who were near to starvation.   This was the time of a major increase of SPICMA’s involvement in sending emergency relief aid.

With experience we soon learnt that is was better to send four or five ton of say Milk Powder initially by air and then followed that up with 20ft Sea Containers each loaded with 40 tons of Milk Powder. This system was followed many times over the difficult years during the final years of Mr Amin’s rule and long after.

(We continue to help in these present days when we can safely deliver emergency assistance which we normally send through the Missionary Church…but more often the necessary goods are available now locally so it is now money that we sent to enable purchases of aid to be bought and at the same time assist the local economy)

In 1981/2 we were also now involved in assisting families in Poland during some of their difficult years. Because the problem was so widespread we concentrated on the area of Grybow. During that period we sent three consignments of food in large removal vans care of the local Church.

The overthrow of Idi Amin was followed by a number of political upheavals and two military coups. The situation didn’t improve for the ordinary people, and in 1986 civil war broke out in the area of Soroti Diocese. As local drug supplies improved, SPICMA’s help in this area decreased, but it was now faced with a new crisis. As battles raged between the government forces and the rebel army, with the neighbouring Karimojong people taking advantage of the breakdown of law and order to launch massive cattle raids, most of the population were regularly displaced. Crops were not planted, large numbers of cattle were stolen, and famine soon hit the most vulnerable, the old and the young. Major children’s agencies were alerted, but it was clear that a lot of people were falling through the cracks. SPICMA enabled the Church services to help these people by sending out many large ship containers of powdered milk. It was at this time that SPICMA became involved in a direct justice issue. Government decided to force and concentrate people into camps, declaring whole villages to be no go areas. The idea was to isolate the rebels but the result was that the daily death toll in each of the five camps or so, where there were no basic facilities, was rising steeply.

The next life threatening crisis which SPICMA addressed was the anti-government insurgency which erupted in 1986 in the East of the country. Home grown rebels were pitched against the National Resistance Army of President Joeli Kaguta Museveni, who still rules Uganda.  As often happens it was the ordinary people who suffered, especially the vulnerable.  Although a number of International Aid Agencies came into the area, SPICMA sent help to those who were in danger of falling through the cracks.  Numerous containers of milk powder were shipped in to feed the children.      Where Fr Bernard lived was one of the nutrition camps.  His lasting memory is of finding a mother lying dead in one of the huts, with her live baby next to her, crying away and not knowing that her mother was dead.   For the next six years of war, SPICMA continued to supply the area with milk and essential drugs by out 20’ and 40’ sea container service plus airfreight when urgent

In 1992 peace came at last to Eastern Uganda. However the result of the years of war had left the people in a rather desperate economic state. Life was from hand to mouth with survival a primary concern. Cattle had either been taken or killed; the Cassava crop the alternative source of income for families had been decimated by a viral disease which had almost wiped out the whole crop.

We now addressed the situation from two angles. Relief aid was still needed especially in the North of Soroti District and also for the malnourished survivors of the infamous camps (mentioned above) in Kumi District, Uganda. Over this period of eighteen months we shipped in over £300,000.00 of milk powder for the Church’s feeding units. Medical aid was still a very important due to the poverty of the people. The main thrust of our work was now towards rehabilitation and development. Added to this was our continued work in assisting day to day operations of the Church by sending spare parts for the Ambulances and Church vehicles, plus Tyres, and building materials to help reconstruct ion.

Soroti Diocese set up Tractor Ploughing Service and after an approach from us Comic Relief donated two tractors and fourteen agricultural trailers and the Overseas Development Agency of the UK Government donated another four tractors plus a considerable amount of tractor parts and accessories. This was a huge benefit to the local subsistence farmers who had nothing. And SPICMA turned its attention to assisting projects which helped people to get back on their feet.   People by the lakeside were helped to buy nets, and farmers, whose cattle had been stolen on a massive scale during the insurgency, were given funds to buy oxen and ploughs.

At this time too SPICMA began to branch out to other parts of the world, always working through the local Churches and trying to assist the people who were in danger of falling through the cracks.   Help was given to parishes in the Diocese of Kroonstad in South Africa, to people in Eastern Europe, and to projects in India, Fuji, Kenya, Tanzania and Upper Volta and Bangladesh.

Because of our long experience in providing aid, we were able to we were able to assist Richards Branson’s urgent appeal for assistance for the Refugee Camps in Jordan and because of the urgency and our experience we had two tons of Blankets and disinfectant at the airport in 36 hours from receiving the call.

1992 was also a special year for us as it was our 25th Anniversary.  We celebrated by going back to St Peter in Chains, North London. Church where it all began and participated in a Mass of Celebration followed by a reception afterwards.

1992 was also the beginning of another change in emphasis and to celebrate we launched a new logo that we still use


In 1993 we moved our office to Sudbury, Suffolk. Below it we started our first Charity Shop. At the time there was a recession and shops became widely available. We often took them over on licences until they were sold or let again. Some just for weeks, some for months and some for nearly five years.

It was to say the least a very exciting period. We now had an old Luton Van. We had a standard legal licence. Sometimes we paid a small rent but mostly we did not pay as the Owners were happy to not have to pay the rates on empty properties. We because of our charity status did not have to pay the rates either or very little. We had racking and shelving which we put up and took down as and when necessary. We became very proficient in opening and closing premises. When we found a shop we contacted the local parish and volunteers appeared.

Early on in the proceedings we discovered that the amount of good quality clothes was not enough to make the shops interesting. We then made the decision to supplement that stock and at this point I must put on record our thanks to Don Proto who showed me another world of warehouses selling all sorts of products in North London. On nearly all occasions he joined us in the van and his eye for picking stocks that we could sell was amazing.

All good things come to an end and as the country came out of recession we gradually lost the opportunity to get free shops. The big charities were now going into the market place on full commercial leases, which we had decided against.

In a way it was time to finish this period. At one point we had eight shops running and apart from clothes we needed to fill the Luton van up three times a week to keep them stocked with new goods. In some ways it was becoming a nightmare and time to call it a day.

At this point to maintain our income we started a Church Supplies company selling vestments, church candles, cassocks, incense. Altar breads, this endeavor lasted some years and eventually we sold the business to another small competitor who wanted to increase their customer base.

On a totally different tack 1993 saw us launch our own access credit card run in conjunction with The Bank of Scotland. Initially this was a useful income earner but gradually over the period of ten years the income dwindled and eventually after ten years we scrapped it as it the contract became less generous.

1993 also saw us start a three year Grant to Nairobi Hospice. Kenya

In 1994 we continued our efforts to help people rebuild their lives. Again with the help of the British Government we set up a project in Soroti Town. Uganda to enable people who had physical impairments to be trained in weaving and shoemaking

In 1995 continuing the effort to restructure the food chain we stated a project in conjunction with the ODA department of British Government to  fund the building the first of a series of Fishing Boats on the shores of Lake Kyoga in Eastern Uganda in an effort to help supplement the areas food chain. In the same year we completed the building of a Maternity Ward in North Teso Uganda,

To maintain the high standard in the Church medical care units in Uganda we set up a project to Train local nurses the training of nurses is vitally important to ensure the high standard of medical help in the Church health units and we provided bursaries over a five year period for the training of nurses

SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT was also assisted by SPICMA in Northern Ireland in the same area of North Teso. In conjunction with the local parents badly needed classrooms were constructed to house the only Secondary School for miles around

During 1994 / 1995 in the former Yugoslavia people continued to be in a very difficult situation and we responded by providing trucks, blankets and large quantities of food.

In 1996 we completed the project of funding the construction of Fishing Boats on Lake Kyoga in Eastern Uganda. In total 180 boats were constructed.

1997 Mill Hill Missionaries sent a new team of Missionaries into the newly set up Catholic Diocese of Kotido. The new team decided to live with the people and had dwellings similar to the local tribe’s people. The area of Karamoja is in the semi desert part of Uganda and the tribe’s people have lived their life by cattle rustling. Cattle are the most important commodity and they live with them drinking their blood and their milk for sustance. Amongst other items SPICMA assisted this new endeavour by sending in a generator for the Mill Hill team.

1998 saw the first request for the new Diocese to assist the local people by raising money to repair the few local water holes which were in a dangerous state.

April 1999 we received an urgent appeal from St Theresa’s children’s orphanage in Southern India. This was run by a Franciscan’s. The home was in imminent danger of closing down as the Brother had as a last resort been forced to go to money lenders to pay the 55 children’s food bills. We paid off the loans and sent money to set up a chicken farm to enable eggs to be used as food and also to sell for income.

Late in 1999 because of the deteriorating situation in Kosova we responded to an appeal and sent two substantial quantities of Sleeping bags, Blankets, Tents and camp beds.

Also late in 1999 saw the transfer of the Church Bell that we had ordered from the smelting pot in South Africa to Fr. Gerald Smith in Ponwge, Tanga Tanzania. Somehow the words donated by SPICMA got onto the top of the Bell. I suspect that it will be a long time before that is seen if indeed ever as the Bell Tower was constructed in Brick and is reputably quite high!

2001 Saw us again heavily involved in providing food to help Feed                                                  starving families in the New Diocese of Kotido in Karamojo, Uganda. We sent £42,000.00. After a call from Mill Hill Missionaries.

Sadly Fr. Declan O’Toole mhm was killed in an ambush that took place near Kalosaric, a village no more than two-and-a-half miles from a Ugandan military encampment.Fr.O’Toole was born in Headford, Ireland, and was ordained a priest in 1997. He had been working in Uganda for about four years. For the recent 18 months, he had been involved in peace and reconciliation talks with the area’s warring tribes.

We supported the building of a Church by Kenyan missionary priest, Fr. Ephraim Odhaiambo, mhm who is working in a poor Black African Township of Oranjeville, near Sasolburg in South Africa.  We also financed a micro bank in the poor parishes of Heibron & Parys in South Africa that has helped young unemployed people to establish small businesses and receive training.

In Magale in Tororo, Eastern Uganda we financed a Solar System project for a 70 bed hospital in Magale in the Archdiocese of Tororo, Uganda.  The hospital has a large rural catchment area of 200,000 + people and only received little pharmaceutical support from government.

September 2002 saw the start of another period of change for SPICMA. We returned to Mill Hill but this time to take up a generous offer of offices at a low rent from the Mill Hill Fathers.

Paddy Phelan who had been running the Charity since 1967 felt that he needed a sabbatical to recharge his batteries and took off to do some travelling in Europe for a period and whilst away stood down as Hon Director.  Michael Phelan agreed to take over the role of Director for a year from September 2002. We also welcomed Mary Hammond who took over the role of Chairman from Michael Phelan. John Buttigieg joined the Charity and set to work setting up a new Database based on the Access system for our new computer and the setting up of a Web Site.

In 2002/3 a total of £45,000 was given in grants to famine relief in Uganda and Ethiopia, a new church in South Africa, refurbishing an old church in Uganda, the establishment of a pig farm, training for AIDS orphans, aid to war orphans, nursing training, housing the elderly, farming implements for a catechist, mission transport, and support of missionary students. We also started appealing for donors to support Aid and War orphans by sponsoring individual with education.

In September 2004 Paddy Phelan took over again as Honary Director and thanked his brother for valiantly looking after SPICMA during his sabbatical.

The TsunamiOn January 4th, 2005 SPICMA received an appeal to use our expertise in getting urgent medical supplies into Sri Lanka. On Friday evening of the same week i.e. 3 days later this large consignment of 87 boxes/pallets flew from Heathrow to Colombo. I must point out that the speed that this consignment was turned around was due to major support by staff at Echo (now taken over by the company Durbin PLC) who assembled and packed our order. This was interim medical assistance to help the Sri Lankan people until the larger NGO’s and government agencies got their formal emergency aid packages up and running.

As the Aid was extremely urgent we financed from our reserves and then launched our Tsunami appeal which raised £23,301.25. Later the same week we received an appeal from Fr. Prakash Louis, an Indian Jesuit who was helping the Sri Lankan Jesuits in the post Tsunami relief and rehabilitation operations and who asked for assistance in rebuilding people’s homes we sent £10,220.00. To the Jesuit Fathers working in some of the most badly affected areas of Sri Lanka namely Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Galle

We also received via the Mill Hill Fathers a recommendation to give support to the Indian Missionary Service in their work of assisting the victims of the Tsunami victims on the coastal regions of Tamil Nadir, and Kerala. The order works in the province of India which was also badly affected by the Tsunami; we sent them £5,500.00 to assist them in their work.

Later the same year the at  8.25am on the 8th October 2005 the KASHMIR EARTHQUAKE struck with a magnitude of  7.6 on the Richter scale leaving 73,000 Dead, 100,000 Injured. 3.5 Million Homeless.

Next day the 9th October 2005 we received news of the dreadful effects of the earthquake in the Kashmir region of Pakistan from Mill Hill Missionaries in the area which enabled us to appeal to our supporters immediately.

The Earthquake was the worst to hit Pakistan in recent history. Evidently the effects were felt throughout the Azad Jammu and Kashmir provinces, North West Frontier Province, Northern Terrories and Northern Punjab and even as far away as eastern Afghanistan

Within literally a couple of days we had sent the first tranche of money to Mill Hill Missionaries both in India and Pakistan. However it soon became apparent the scale of the disaster and the Mill Hill Superior in Pakistan asked us to assist Caritas Pakistan, who had become the focus of Catholic Action because of the now apparent enormous wide spread scale of the disaster. We sent immediately to Caritas Pakistan £5000.00 on the 15th October, and followed that with another £91,000.00 over the next few weeks. Bishop Peter Celestine of the Diocese of Jammu in India approached us and asked for assistance.  We sent him £9,000.00. – Bishop Curti of the Diocese of Faisalabad, Pakistan also asked for assistance.  We sent him £6000.00 in total we sent just over £116,000.00

During 2005 we also helped various smaller projects including setting up a desert garden project in a school in Tanzania, helping set up a food kitchen in Launda, Kenya, assist in the set-up of a small scale Honey unit in Malindi Kenya, assist the rebuilding of the junior seminary in Eritrea, assisted the Sacred Heart Fathers in their work in feeding the poor and hungry in the breakaway unrecognised state of Transdniester, Eastern Europe.  We also sent £3,000 via Fr Kevin O’Rourke MHM to help with relief in the Malakal Diocese in Sudan.



SAM EWING was awarded the Papal Beni Merenti for his voluntary work for SPICMA.  Sam was born in Holland on Sea in Essex as the family were evacuated during the Second World War. The family moved back to St Peter in Chains Parish, Hornsey in time for him to go to school at St. Peters R C school and then to St William of York R.C School until Leaving at 16.

He is the eldest of 4 children 2 bothers and a sister. The family all attended St Peter in Chains church and was baptised, made first Holy Communion, were confirmed and in his case married there. He was an alter server at St Peters where he first met the Phelan Family and became involved in helping SPICMA at its start in 1967.

He worked unpaid as a volunteer every year since. He was at the packing of every air shipment, the packing of every sea container, assisted at all the fund raising functions – every jumble sale, dance etc etc. He is currently a trustee of the charity and although now in his mid sixties continues to assist whenever he can.

We had a very memorable evening at Mill Hill and his medal was presented to him during a celebratory Mass in the Chapel with his family and many friends and colleagues present. The venue was most fitting as we had spent so many years packing 20 & 40 ft sea containers there and latterly for six years had our office their.

Later that year Saturday, August 26, 2006 we received the following email, forwarded to us by Mill Hill Missionaries in Pakistan

Bad news from Khipro, Sindh, Pakistan. We have had very heavy rains and frightening lighting. In our area at least 10 people have died from lightening. It began raining on the 28th.July. We were all very happy as there was a shortage of water and the crops badly needed water. From Friday the 11th August we have had very heavy rains, thunder and lightening Yesterday it rained for at least 20 hours. People have been desperately draining water from the crops – but to no avail. Now all the crops and villages are under water and the crops will soon die.


Many people are not able to assess clean drinking water. Mosquitoes are everywhere and people are getting sick. It is the worst situation since I came to this area in 1995. I have seen similar situations in Matli in early 1980’s and in Kunri in the late 80’s. The people are in immediate need of help. People’s houses are under water. Those who have some food find it hard to find fire-wood – and if they have it is wet. Some mud houses and wooden structures have collapsed.


 As our people work on the land for big landlords, the longer term scenario for them is not good. Crops have failed. They will not find work as there will be no picking of the cotton and chillies.


We are making a desperate cry of help for them. We would be very grateful for any financial support. Looking forward to hearing from you and thanking you in anticipation, MHM Sindh, Pakistan

We immediately sent £10,000 which left UK on the 28th August 2006. We also decided to set up an appeal as no other agency appeared to have noticed this tragedy.  As a result we raised in total £51,360.00 which was sent on to the Missionaries at Khirpo as and when, the money came in. Our final payment was made on the 6thDecember.2007


During the year we also made an education Grant to Amuria Parish, Uganda, assisted with finance for a lorry for Kumi School Uganda, helped St Teresa’s Secondary School Soroti, with a grant from Spicma Derry, and made a grant to build a drop in centre for orphans in Sasolburg in South Africa. A Grant to refurbish St Amiti’s House, Soroti Diocese, Uganda plus further funding to the education fund through which several donors are funding individual children’s education.

After a request from Mill Hill Missionaries – SPICMA agreed to fund £5,000.00 to enable the many men, women and children who lost limbs in the recent conflicts, to get basic Prosthesis. The cost to construct and fit each limb was approximate £80.

PHILLIPINES FLOOD 2006 – Due to the generosity of single donation by Mr. Dennis Keating RIP – who had spent some time on the Island of Layette after recovering there  from war wounds during the later stages of second world  –  we were able to send £10,000 to the people of this Island after it had been devastated by floods. 

MARSABIT KENYA FAMINE APPEAL 2006. – Following an appeal from the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Marsabi In Northern Kenya, £15,575 was sent for famine relief.

Also in 2006 we moved our office to Ware in Herts to a larger room. We had gradually increased our fund raising mailings as more and more appeals had come in and in 2005 had started printing in house to keep costs to a minimum. By 2006 some of our mailings were taking a week to print so when we were offered another surplus Riso machine we decided to buy that as well and run them in tandem. Although the Riso machine proved very economical. The downside was a large increase in energy and time by volunteers. The Riso machines were fast but when you print in one year 360,000 sides of A4. It becomes quite a challenge…

2007 was one of the more difficult in our recent history. We had confirmation that following a lengthy illness Mary Hammond decided she could no longer assist the Charity as our Chair. Our thanks to Mary who in recent history has been a very important part of our rebuilding.                                                                                      

However we were pleased to have her at the celebrations of our 40th year of existence, which she mainly organised with the help of Mrs Lesley Pippett, which was held at our birth place i.e.  in St Peter in Chains Church, Hornsey, London N8 9AE. Our thanks to the Parish Priest of St Peters who welcomes us back. It was a lovely day, the church was full. Bernard concelebrated Mass with members of the Mill Hill Congregation and the Parish Priest of St Peters. During the Mass a congratulatory Message was read from Cardinal Cormac.

Our income this year was reduced by almost fifty percent. This was presumably because of the recession, but two of our appeals did very badly as they clashed with other major appeals made by the Disaster Emergency Committee. This has become a growing problem for the smaller charities.


During 2007 the charity paid out the sum of £80,430 in grants. These are some of the larger projects which received funds:



In 2006 we started a major project to provide 30 new deep Bore Holes in the district of Karamoja, Eastern Uganda. The second phase of this project neared completion and we have sent a further £6,500.00 to complete this stage.

Other grants were made including a grant of £4730 to Odwe Oduk People’s Technical School Bukedea, Eastern Uganda to provide solar power and Battery storage to enable the students to use the Computers sent by Computeraid funded by SPICMA. The school is situated in Kolir Sub – Most of the people are subsistence farmers, and are beginning to recover from the effects of war and cattle raiding which dealt a grievous blow to their livelihood.  

2006 – 2007       A new Project Grant to celebrate 75 years of evangelisation in Karamoja was made by us to refurbish a house and erect Latrine/Bathroom in Panyangara Mission, Kotido Diocese, Eastern Uganda. The Church in Karamoja is way behind the rest of Uganda, due to the isolation of the people there.   This special project year marked 75 years of evangelisation in Karamoja as a whole.  Since most of the Catechumens are young women this will target mainly a sector of the population which is quite clearly oppressed by the male patriarchal society.   

Further projects this year included a Project to assist rural farmers with a grinding mill to help people there who are mainly subsistence farmers, cultivating millet and maize.

We also made a Grant of to Rebuild Losilan Parish Vehicle Christ the King Parish, Kotido Diocese; The Toyota Hi Lux was and is definitely past its best. It did not help its condition when it slid of the road in bad weather. We funded the planting of 500 trees in a Forestation Project, in Okwira and Buluwe Villages under the care of Fr. Michael Ochwo, The tree coverage was down to just about 5% of what was originally there.


Following Famine in Kotido Eastern Uganda in October that same year– We sent £20,000. To assist the five Catholic Health Units in Kotido Diocese as they had mothers and children seeking food.

Within months an Emergency Grant of £15, 300, 00 for Post Flood Relief was made to Soroti Diocese, Eastern Uganda to help the people who now were affected by floods in Soroti District, Eastern Uganda. We had raised £60,000.00 for flood relief. But following concerns at the lack of recovery we made another appeal to our supporters which raised a further £15,300.00 for post flood rehabilitation.


2007 INDIA & PAKISTAN We made further grants of £6000.00 and £8,500.00 to Bishop Coutts in Faisalabad in Pakistan to assist the Homeless people following severe flooding in their area. A Grant of £4,641.00 to Sindh Diocese to help in rebuilding for the Homeless. We also made a further grant of £8,500.00 to Bishop Celestine of Jammu Diocese in India to help with rehousing after localised flooding.

Other grants we made included £10,000 to purchase cycles to enable the Bukedea Area Catechists, £4000.00 to purchase cycles for kidetok Parish Catechists in Soroti Diocese, plus £1,500.00 for bicycles for the Formation Centre in Kidetok, Uganda to enable them all to get around more safely their wide areas of responsibility. In Kotido Diocese we provided £10,000.00 to provide Motor Cycles for the Priests in Kotido Diocese Uganda. £3,000.00 to Refurbish Kidetok Health Centre. In the Mission Parish of Panyangara we gave a grant for Solar Pump and Solar Panels run a pump in the Borehole. We gave a Grant of £2000.00 to finance the training of Village Midwives in Karamoja via Dr.Sally Graham.  We also made a grant to the Little Sisters of St Francis in Soroti Diocese, Uganda    of £7,700 The Grant was given to provide water at the Sisters’ retirement home, Laverna, in Soroti.


EDUCATION  Our thanks to those of our supporters who are funding the education of children whose parents have died prematurely, from War, Aids etc and other children whose parents have served the local Church and died prematurely or in the middle of their children’s  education

During 2007 / 2008 we gave a grant of £3,500.00 to enable the completion of a Bore hole in Chakama Parish, Malindi Diocese, Kenya. 

A Grant of £3,000.00 was also given to St Francis School for the Blind Madera to enable them replace latrine pit toilets in the School for the Blind, Madera:  SPICMA Derry made a grant of £4000.00 be used to complete the building of a Health Unit in Soroti.  SPICMA also funded a Project to assist rural farmers with a grinding mill August 2008 – £1000.00. To enable disadvantaged rural farmers deep in the village Kabulabula near Serere in the District of Soroti, Eastern Uganda, We gave a grant of £2000.00 to fund the cost of building a 30,000 lit. Water Storage Tank at the Laverna Sisters Retirement Home Project.


2008 – 2009 Our Major Grants


During 2009 the charity paid out the sum of £147,815.11 in grants. These are some of the larger projects which received funds from us:


July 2009 Peshawar and Nowshera PAKISTAN EMERGENCY APPEAL Grant to local Mill Hill Missionary Team £38,000.00


We received an Emergency Appeal  from the Mill Hill Fathers in the Peshawar and Nowshera area of Pakistan who urgently needed money to assist up to half a million refugees that were fleeing into their areas from the fighting in the Swat Valley. Many of the refugees were Christian who inevitably get discrimated against in this part of the world. Having said that, the MHM team of course helped families directly without discrimination Muslim or Christian. Hand-to-hand help, from financial, to food aid, to placements, to medication, to lice treatments (very important in the camps – it was 43 degrees there so you can imagine how the camps were). Thanks to the generosity of you our donors we were able to send £38,000 to assist the Mill Hill Teams working in Peshawar and Nowshera



Grant for the Patsy Helm Hotel Training School £44,000.00

The Patsy Helm Memorial Hotel Training School was officially opened on February 12th 2010 in Jinja. It is a residential Training School that is run by Women in Need ( JINJA) under the auspices of the Catholic Diocese of Jinja and exists to take young girls and boys who have been forced into prostitution out of prostitution and to train them up in vocational skills such as hairdressing, dressmaking, catering and hotel work. It not only provides the training but helps the youngsters to get suitable work after training.  The centre was purchased with the help of a substantial donation from Doctor Roger Helm in memory of his late wife Patsy RIP.


EDUCATION – 2009 Grant £11,893.00 & Education Fund £30,000.00

Our thanks to those of our supporters who individually have funding the education of orphaned children whose parents have died prematurely, from War, Aids etc. and other children whose parents have served the local Church and died prematurely or in the middle of their children’s  education. The problem in Uganda is that increasingly education is for the rich. The cost of education has risen so steeply these last few years that a decision was made to contact existing donors and suggest that they pay into a central fund. This enabling them to donate whatever they could afford without having the pressure to continually increase their sponsorship for an individual child to a financial level which none of us ever envisaged when we asked for sponsors.   We have sent £30,000.00 from reserves to make certain that if we are not able to raise enough funds in the coming years by donations from existing  sponsors and like-minded individuals that we by this grant insure that these 27 Children will be able to finish their education.

Daughters of St. Anne Congregation Ethiopia – Clinic 6,827.00   May 2009.  The Order was founded in Italy, and has provinces in Latin America and Africa, India, and now the great majority of the nuns there are Ethiopian. They have a number of houses throughout Ethiopia and do a lot of work with clinics, women’s income generation, etc. We gave a grant to extend a clinic, which is a Catholic clinic, in Mokonisa, in Wollaita Soddo Region, in the South of Ethiopia, a very poor part…

Panyangara Mill Hill Parish Kotido – Solar Water Heating Panels and insulated tank: £1,550

Repair of Church in St. Teresa’s Parish, Bukedea Eastern Uganda – £1646. The Church in Bukedea was built in the early 1950’s by the Mill Hill Missionaries.  It was in need of repair.  The facia boards of the Church have been replaced and some structural repairs completed. 

Clean water for Children’s home in Gwatikira – Kibera – Nairobi, Kenya: £2000 – The grant led to the installation of water pipes in the St. Charles Lwanga Gatwikira Rehabilitation Education Centre in one of the largest slums in Africa, Kibera in Nairobi. It has helped to improve the sanitation and health of the 4,500 students and staff members by providing them with clean and safe water for domestic use.  Some of the water has also been used for irrigating the crops which help to provide food for this school, run by the Brothers of St. Charles Lwanga, a locally founded Religious Congregation.


Panyangara Parish Wind Turbine – £2,840.00. – The parish has been relying on Solar energy which over the years has become overloaded due to the increase of residents, namely Mill Hill students who stay here for two years mission experience.  We were advised to install a wind turbine to supplement the electricity supply.  Most of the year round the wind blows strongly day and night.  


Grant to Serendipity Centre, Kampala, Uganda:  £3,000. – The Serendipity Centre has been operating for some years out of rented accommodation.  It helps to rehabilitate people addicted to alcohol and other substances, and is the only one of its kind in the whole of Uganda, in a country which has the dubious distinction of one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption in the whole of Africa.  For a long time the Centre has been endeavouring to construct a purpose built Centre which can house a larger number of patients… SPICMA with your help contributed to this project along with many other donors. The new Serendipity Centre is now open.

Panur, North Karnataka in Southern India        £5000.00                      EMERGENCY FLOOD

We made an emergency grant to help Fr Maxim SJ and his team at the Jesuit Mission in Pannur, in the poor rural region of North Karnataka in Southern India which had recently been subject to devastating floods that left the families of the downtrodden Dalit caste; the so called ‘untouchables’ of Indian society who had little to start with, lost all, and were left sleeping with their children in makeshift tents on the road. After the recent devastating floods.

Our Future towards the end of 2009 was very much in doubt. Our Volunteer base had gradually dwindled and our attempts to get new volunteers in the local area had failed. We had talks with other organisations but no real progress was made. Following a suggestion from Michael Gorman of Eagle Aid, we met with Christopher Page Chairman of the Association at Stonyhurst. His suggestion was to transfer our office side (which was down to one volunteer) to The Association Office in Clitheroe and share some of the office costs. This was accomplished at the end of this year 2009 and SPICMA through that action continues to do its good work.    In 2010 Christopher Page became SPICMA’s new chairman.

2009/2010 has seen SPICMA’s donated income increase a little over our normal level. This indicates the generosity of our donors even during these difficult times of recession



OUR MAJOR GRANTS FOR 2009 – 2010    Total Funds RECEIVED £223,160.00   Grants Made £262,339.00

January 2010 Pannur – INDIA In 2010 we continued to support the Emergency Flood Appeal from Fr. Maxim SJ and the team at Pannur Jesuit Mission, India – £20,000.00 Sent via Jesuit Missions

There were a total of 29 villages destroyed by floods in the region of Pannur– what was left was just piles of rubble.   The families who lost their homes were left sleeping with their children on the road, in four foot high tents made of loose gunny bags (pictured to the left). These people started with little and were left with nothing not even drinking water.


February / March 2010 GRANT of £25,000.00 TO KOTIDO DIOCESE, EASTERN UGANDA FOR FAMINE RELIEF    In early 2010 following an appeal by The Mill Hill Fathers to assist the Medical Units of the Kotido Catholic Diocese in Karamoja, Eastern Uganda SPICMA sent £25,000.00 to buy food for the vulnerable people such as the sick, the old and infirm and mothers with small children.

March 2010 Faisalabad – PAKISTAN:  £6,000.00 we made the Grant to build a House for a Catechist in the Diocese of Faisalabad.  Here a catechist needs to be multi-talented.  He is not only a catechist but also a pastoral assistant and community leader. In a situation where the Catholics are sporadically scattered about in predominantly Muslim villages; where about half the people are illiterate and the priest can visit only about once a month or so, the role of the Catechist is of vital importance for the pastoral care of the people.

July 2010 MASSIVE FLOODING IN North West Frontier (Peshawar and Nowshera) & Sindh Province – PAKISTAN     We received an Emergency Appeal from the Mill Hill Fathers in the Peshawar and Nowshera area of Pakistan and from the Diocese of Sindh Thanks to the generosity of our Donors SPICMA sent a total of £115,000.00 in 2010 & 2011 via The Mill Hill Fathers to enable the Parishes in The North West Frontier and Sindh Diocese Pakistan provide assistance to the families following the terrible floods that swept this part of Pakistan in July/August 2010.

MAY 2010 Grant of £6,000.00 to St Vincent De Paul Nursery School Langata St Vincent De Paul Rescue Center (Kibera), Nairobi, KENYA. The Nursery school provides education to over 85 children, including children orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS. Children not only receive early education, but also benefit from two meals provided daily to all students. The high rates of HIV/AIDS have contributed to a large number of child orphans in Kibera. In response to the growing number of orphans, SVPCDO established the Childrens Rescue Centre to provide housing, food, clothes, schooling and medical support to orphaned girls and boys ages 3 to 10 years old…


AUGUST 2010 Nellore Diocese,  SOUTH INDIA – GRANT £5,000.00 – We made a Grant of £5,000.00 to  Bishop Prakasam  of  Nellore Diocese in South India to start a Tailoring Centre in Nayudupet Catholic Parish this would provide training for poor young uneducated girls. Many low caste girls and women have grown up looking after cattle and because their families are so poor, never receive an education. Consequently teaching them a life skill such as tailoring can have dramatic life changing benefits, by providing a small income, which will provide an independence which in turn frees them from male domination or in a more positive way makes them more valued as a marriage partner. The Grant was given to set up a training school, by purchasing 42 Tailoring Machines and provide for a Tutor. The School will then provide one year courses for 42 your women.


We gave a Grant of £73,000.00 to set in motion Phase 3 of our Major Project to Bore another 25 wells in Kotido District, Eastern Uganda making a total of 53 over the last few years. This is an on-going project that needs substantial further funding and parish or school involvement in sponsoring a Well would be appreciat

Our Future

SPICMA is a fairly unique organisation and has been able to continue its work this year because of the joint operations of Sam and Anne Ewing, John Buttigieg, Christopher Page our new Chairman and of course yours truly.

We volunteers working for SPICMA are conscious that we cannot go on forever.  None of us are spring chickens especially those of us who started when the charity was founded in 1967.  Our hope is that other volunteer workers will come and join us. 

As can be seen from our web site we work from different parts of the country via the benefit of the Software “Go to my PC.”, if you have a gift that you feel would be of benefit to the Charity such as computer literacy, accounting skills or managing a website please, do get in touch.

Our final thanks go to the most important people – you the donors.  None of the work that SPICMA has managed to achieve these 47 years would have been possible without your generosity.  Thank you, not just from us but from the many thousands of people for whom you have allowed us to reach out and share The Good News 

Finally if you have made a will, it is easy to make a bequest to SPICMA by adding a codicil. This is an amendment to or addition which must be signed and witnessed like a will. A popular way of ensuring a fair proportion to all is to leave a percentage or fraction of the residuary estate. Once all other gifts have been distributed, the remainder of your property can be shared in the proportions you stipulate amongst the people and charities you name.  For further details please contact the office for an information pack.


JUNE 2011

Kyrgyzstan is a former Soviet republic in mid-Asia which became independent in 1991. In the 1930’s and 40’s many thousands of Catholics were deported to Kyrgyzstan from Stalinist Russia. Their de- scendents remain there as a minority community. We received an appeal from the four Jesuits working in Dzalalabad in South Kyrgyzstan. Their area borders China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. The Jesuits work to spread the Good News, teach moral values and provide material help for this socially marginalised section of the population. Many of the children have disabilities and receive little or no governmental aid. The recent riots there highlighted the importance of their work with the Kyrgyz youth who were involved in the unrest and further illustrates the importance of continuing the Fathers outreach and Spiritual Formation of the youth.

Our Grant of £6,637 has helped them to finish the new Children’s Rehabilitation and Spirituality Centre, which will enable the Fathers to continue their work of building mutual respect. Sowing the seeds of mutual love will take many years of effort, but will easier to do with the young than with those who have become more intransigent in their preconceptions and beliefs.



When famine once again threatened the people in the Horn of Africa, the Jesuit Fathers of the East Africa Province appealed for help to Spicma. Their aim was to provide relief for  a targeted group of the most vulnerable people, including the elderly, young mothers and children in some of the worst hit areas. These included people in the villages of Kitui, Turkana, East Ookot, Marakewet and Lodwar, who had not been reached by the larger agencies. The Jesuit Fathers purchased maize, beans, millet, cooking oil and nutrifit which they were then able to distribute through the network  of parishes and

                                                       URGENT FOOD SUPPLIES WERE DISTRIBUTED THROUGH PARISHES AND SCHOOLS.

schools in the area. Spicma was able to respond to this urgent appeal with a grant of £20,000.


Loyora is a village in the Kaabong District of Karamoja, Uganda. In 2007, Spicma donated a grinding mill. Since then it has been in constant use by the people of the village and also by the people of neighbouring Lokanayona 12 km away and Ligo, 6km away. It takes the women of these two communities almost an entire day to walk to and from the grinding mill to have their maize and sorghum ground. The parish wanted to set up another mill in Lokanayona. This would reduce the distance significantly for the women, young and old, and the saving in hours and energy would make a major improvement in their lives giving them more time for other activities. It would be of particular benefit to the older women who, being unable to walk the long distances to and from the existing mill,

are forced to grind their flour on stones at home. This often leads to contamination of the flour. The parish proposed to set up the grinding mill next to the parish school so that the girls, who are often expected to do the grinding for the family, can do the work during the lunch break or after classes. This will mean they will not have to repeatedly miss out on schooling. A relatively small grant of £910 from Spicma was all that was needed to make a very big impact on the lives of the women and girls

of Lokanayona.


The indigenous Quichua people of Riomamba Diocese, live between ten and fourteen thousand feet above sea level in a mountainous area of Ecuador. They are exceptionally poor peasant farmers. Many of them live in one room “chozas” with no water, electricity or even windows.

During the 1990’s as Catholic Missionaries gradually withdrew from the area, Bishop, Victor Corral, (now Bishop Emeritus) appealed for help in building a seminary in which to train their own

priests to serve the people. Spicma helped to make it possible and in 1999, The Good Shepherd Seminary welcomed 15 poorly educated peasant farmers as students for the priesthood. To date, 12 students have been ordained and there are currently 13 seminarians. The diocese is still incredibly poor and cannot exist without help. In 2011, Spicma provided a further grant of £6,000 to pay for the construction of several greenhouses. These will be used to grow food both for

consumption and as a means of providing income. This will make the Seminary more economically independent.




Bishop Mosses D. Prakasam of the Diocese of Nellore in South India appealed to Spicma for help in replacing a Catholic

school in the village of Pamuru Palli. The people of the area are mainly farmers, shepherds and labourers and are excep- tionally poor. The original school had been built more than eighty years ago. It had become too small to accommodate all the children and was eventually in such a dangerous state of collapse that it had to be closed. The local people could not

afford to replace it so, as a temporary measure, the diocese rent-

ed a house where more than a hundred children from three different villages attended each day. Spicma provided a grant of £7,500 to help to build a new school. Bishop Mosses wrote: “ I sincerely wish to thank all your donors for their support of the rebuilding of our school. God bless you all.”


Karamoja is in Kotido Diocese in the north east of Uganda in an area bordering Sudan and Kenya. The Karimojong, who inhabit this isolated area, have remained attached to their traditional way of life. The semi desert environment is harsh. When rain does fall it tends to be torrential. Water then rushes down the river beds but dries up very quickly once the rain stops. Since 2008 Spicma has funded 30 boreholes which provide clean safe water. These have been a tremendous blessing to the people of the area. In 2011, we made a grant of a further £73,000 to add another 25 boreholes. More are still needed.


Madera is a village in the Soroti District of Uganda. St. Francis School for the Blind was founded by the Little Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi in the nine-

teen eighties, to provide formal education for visually impaired students. It is a mixed boarding

school for young people aged 15 to 21. The students are able to gain vocational skills in computer studies, typing, animal husbandry, music, dance and drama. They ae also taught life skills which enable them to be self reliant and to integrate into the community.

Having helped the school to replace the latrine pit

toilets in 2007/08, Spicma was able to help to combat

the shortage of water. A grant of £7,500 provided five 10,00 litre storage tanks to enable the staff and stu- dents to harvest all available water.

One of the five new water tanks being used to

harvest water.


The Brothers of St. Charles live and work in exceptionally difficult circumstances in Kibera Slum in

Nairobi. They run four centres, caring for a thousand orphaned children who would otherwise be trying to sur- vive on the streets. Their centre in Eastleigh had no ac- cess to clean water. As a result many of the staff and children suffered constant bouts of sickness. Spicma made a grant of £8,250 to provide tanks to collect and store safe water.


Grant: £8,000

In 2010 Spicma’s donors had responded generously to an emergency appeal from the Mill Hill Fathers following the terrible floods that swept this part of Pakistan. During 2010/11 a total of £115,00 was sent to enable local par- ishes to offer to the people who had been made home-

This was the only protection some families had against the cold.

less. Just before Christmas 2012, Spicma was able to make a further grant to the help with the re- building.       Fr. Tom Rafferty MHM from the North West Frontier Province wrote:                  “ Once again I barely know how to thank you all for your generosity and the £8000 pounds you have granted towards rebuilding of

homes in Nowshera NWFP. Thank you. It is indeed a very great and welcome ‘Christmas Gift’ to us and will go a long way in getting us closer to the finish line of this project. The cold spell we are hav- ing at the moment is slowing things up a bit but in the new year I will surely let you know how we get on.


Karamoja Diocese Medical Units Emergency – Grant £2000.

Emergency Help to the Mill Hill Fathers NWFP Pakistan – Grant £2000. Assistance in completion of Panyangara Convent Karimoja  – Grant £5000.

Furniture for St Marks Church Kenya –  Grant £2000

School Furniture for the Sisters of St Joseph Kenya  – Grant £2000 Progress Report on current projects in East Africa – Grant £1450



KENYA:  EASTLEIGH KIBERA     Grant: £3,200

(The Brothers of St Charles run four Centre’s in Kibera Slum in Nairobi. Please see for previous projects above)

This is the fourth grant Spicma has been able to make to the Brothers to provide clean drinking water in this exceptionally poor area. Their Vocational Skills Training Centre in Eastleigh provides rehabilitation by providing training, food, medical care, guidance and counseling, principally to youths aged 16 to 18. This phase was to install two water tanks for clean safe water storage to improve the health & sanitation for over100 trainees and staff members as well as a further

2000 people in and around the centre.


There are 37 villages in Bukedea Catholic Parish. The main goal of FLEP is to promote Christian family life and the results of a pilot project indicated that the best way to do this was through effective communication. However, lack of transport and portable means of communication made it impossible to reach out to families in the widely spread outstations. Spicma’s grant to Fr. Gonzaga Ongereny Wazinwazi enabled him to buy a generator and a motor bike to carry a PA system, a TV set, a laptop and video plus 13 bicycles for the team to use. The parish intend to invite other denominations in the neighboring villages. Experiences gained from the pilot project included: better informed and orga- nized families, improved hygiene, sanitation and child rearing, empowerment an overall more peace- ful communities.

APRIL 2012

XAVIER PROJECT      Grant   £11,020

Recent bouts of violence in Eastern Congo have forced thousands of Congolese refugees to seek asylum in

Uganda. T he Xavier Project sought urgent funds from Spicma to equip their new education and community

centre to support some of the young Congolese refugees who have fled to Kampala. Money was needed for basic

educational & internet equipment, simple facilities, rent for the centre, teachers & a caretaker.  Youngsters served by the project  live  in  abject

poverty in             urban slum areas where they are exposed to unimaginable  conditions. T he centre wi l l offer refugees the chance to be able to take back control of their lives and

make a positive change to their new communities or to their country of origin. Apart from SPICMA’s contribution, all administration costs have been covered by donations -in-kind.

UPDATE: “  Thank you all for the donation for our Refugee Project in Kampala. It is so

exciting to be getting it under way. There is a huge amount of energy amongst the refugee community in Kampala regarding this project -they are very excited! “

MAY 2012


In 1967, shortly after his arrival in Toroma Parish in Tororo Diocese, Uganda as a newly ordained young priest,

Fr. Bernard Phelan MHM wrote home to his family

appealing for financial assistance. His family and his parish responded by establishing a support group called

The Friends of Tororo Mission which eventually evolved into SPICMA. The rest is history – this history in fact!

(Please see above.)


         To mark the 45th anniversary of it’s relationship with Toroma parish Spicma made an

Anniversary Project grant of £9,000 to fund much needed repairs and refurbishment to the 80 year old Mission structure there.

JULY 2012


The generosity of Spicma supporters enabled the parishioners of Sandcreek Mission to rebuild their church.

The population of Sandcreek village is 80% Catholic. Their church building was in imminent danger of collapse. The wooden pillars and rafters were infested by termites and the roof was covered with dangerous & deteriorating asbestos. The 561 adult members of the church community had started digging new foundations & sawing wood for its replacement. These were truly substantial contributions from the people who live on a subsistence economy and who do not have any cash. Your help was needed to buy such materials as cement, iron rods, zinc sheet, bolts & nuts.

Update:  Please thank everyone for their support. The people are so very excited and enthusiastic about building this church and they are contributing greatly towards it by their labour. It is a common practice among the Amerindians and they call it “manore.” I do not know the exact meaning of the word. It is community work. Food will be given to all who work. They do some small scale fund

raising so that they can feed the labourers. Sandcreek is named after a large creek, – more like a riv- er – and plenty of fish is available. They go fishing for ‘feed up’ and or for fund raising. A new building certainly will improve the morale of the Catholic community and will also boost the self-esteem of the people.  God Bless you all.  Fr. Varghese.


Kibera Slum accounts for a tiny percentage of Nairobi’s total land area, but holds more than a quarter of its population (up to 1.2 million depending on the season). Conditions of life in Kibera are notori- ously difficult. Most residents live on a pittance. They are exposed to high rates of violence and compromised by extremely high rates of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis

The SVP Rescue Centre is a happy place with a House Mother who provides a loving home, food, clothes, medicine and schooling to over 80 children aged between 3 and 8, many of whom are sick. The children are given a chance of survival and of eventually achieving, a primary education.

At present the Rescue Centre is run by a small group of dedicated local volunteers,

SPICMA agreed to fund a full time director for 2 years to give them time to put a structure for long term survival in place.


NOWSHERA CLASSROOMS     Donation: £7,700

A generous donation from one Spicma supporter provided much needed extra classrooms for St. Thomas Middle School in Nowshera.

Fr. Tom Rafferty MHM wrote to thank Spicma:

The Missionary Sisters of St. Thomas, myself & all here send their greetings and their thanks to the generous benefactor for his donation of £7,700. These classrooms have come ready just in time for the beginning of the new school year and pave the way for the Sisters to continue with the now high- er classes and develop into a High School. Our Thanks to Spicma for facilitating this project and again our thanks to the very generous donor. May he be blessed in his great generosity.


In 2012, Spicma’s donors helped to develop a medical centre into a hospital.

The St. Martin De Porres Health Centre in the Soroti District has saved the lives of many of the very poorest people in Uganda but tertiary care was only available 250 miles away in Kampala. Spicma appealed to donors to help to fund the development of the centre into a hospital and because of their generous response was able to make a grant of £15,000. This wil lhelp to add 30 more beds, 2 operating theatres, a laboratory and a dispensary, transforming medical care for the people of the area.


Spicma launches an appeal on behalf of  ST. THERESA’S PARISH BUKEDEA, UGAN- DA

         TRACTOR PROJECT     Grant: £13,000

Many lives were lost in Uganda during the insurgency and cattle rustling in late eighties. Livestock was stolen during a massive series of cattle raids and as a result many people were left in extreme poverty. The loss of the Oxen in particular has meant that very little food can be produced – certainly not enough to sustain the most needy households.

Fr Israel, of Bukedea Catholic Parish, asked SPICMA to finance a project which aimed to stop the cycle of food shortage and famine. They wanted to buy a second hand tractor and provide a driver so that 767 acres of flat agriculture land could be ploughed. This would mean that food could be produced to help the most vulnerable households – particularly widows, disabled persons, single parents and the sick. The Parish have worked out a five year plan to make the project become self-sustaining. Following a typically generous response from its supporters Spicma was able to send the £13,000 needed to fund the project.

                                 DECEMBER 2012

Grant to the Batwa Project in Burundi £12,000


That was the atmosphere in Cibarazi, Gishubi Parish Burundi where twenty four simple new brick homes have transformed the lives of Batwa families.

The Batwa are the indigenous people of Burundi but they now make up only about 1% of the total population. Traditionally they lived by hunting and gathering. They were also renowned for their terra cotta pottery. Over the years however a number of factors have changed their circumstances for the worse. Their lands have been taken from them and the income they made from making domestic pottery has been eroded by the import of plastic and metal utensils.

Even before this last development their income was barely enough to provide them with one meal a day. The vast majority of the Batwa have little access to education and are therefore unable to develop

the skills needed to make a decent living. Many have now been forced to beg, reinforcing the already negative stereotyping which often makes them scapegoats in society. The Batwa are now the poorest and most marginalised community in Burundi.

For the majority, the family home – which often houses as many as 6 people – is a circular hut three metres in diameter and one and a half metres high. These flimsy shelters which are made from shrubs and branches, are not waterproof and because open fires are the only means of cooking and heating, they are often destroyed by fire.

Action Batwa identified the need for decent housing as pivotal to their work in helping the Batwa. SPIC- MA supporters were asked to help to provide small, safe, dry brick houses for twenty four Batwa fami- lies. This would empower this small community to take their first step out of extreme poverty. Paddy Phelan, Hon. Director of Spicma, described the response as “heart-warming” . He added that “in no

time at all, every pound needed was raised. This project was finished in record time”.

In Ciberazi, the families were provided with the materials to make bricks and when all was assembled each family set to work to build their own house. Those who were either too old or too ill to make bricks or do their own building, were helped by other members of the community.

When the project was complete, Fr. Elias reported that the families were “very happy, and life has changed so much for them.. their human dignity and self esteem has been consolidated.”


         Caritas Islamabad- Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Military operations in Bara Tehsil, Khyber Agency, displaced over a quarter of a million people in 2012 . Many of these people fled into Jalozai Camp near Peshawar. As the winter temperatures plummeted the children in the camp were especially vulnerable to the extreme cold. They had no warm clothing and only tents for shelter. Their diet was poor and many fell prey to winter diseases such as flu, pneumonia and chest

infections. The Catholic Charity Caritas Islamabad asked for assistance to provide warm clothing for the children such as sweaters, socks and hats. Spicma supporters responded quickly and as a result at least 700 children were provided with warm winter clothing. Jalozai Camp management and Caritas were both very grateful – and so were the children!


Jesuit Mission Zimbabwe


Panyangara amplification system

£ 620

Ngora Kidetok Uganda   S/hand tractor   plough


Church benches St. Marks

£ 600

St. Theresa’s School Security Fence


St. Francis School for   the Blind Security Fence


St. Cresentia   Education


Abim Catholic Church to Harvest   Water from roof


St. Monica’s Women’s Skills Centre Water Project

£ 2,500

Fr. John Doran   South Africa

£ 1,000

Drop-In Centre Refengkhotso, S. Africa


Wells Repair Kotido Diocese


Contribution to church building Kutchi Pakistan


Caritas Islamabad   Pakistan


Wells Project Kotido Uganda   – Joint Funding


Paddy Phelan

Hon.Director                                                                                                                        4th December 2013