It is undeniable that the Kingdom of God ushers in justice and righteousness. As disciples of Christ, we are called to seek justice, correct oppression, and plead the cause of the afflicted and needy. Isa. 1:17.
It is also undeniable that one effect of having children in prison is that some of them suffer injustice, and are easily forgotten in a system that is crowded and overwhelmed. We often come across children who are waiting for their case to be heard, or who cannot get to the courtroom for various reasons, or who have officially been released but their paperwork hasn’t come through yet. You get the picture.
For some time, we have seen the need for a dedicated advocate who can help track cases, work to expedite hearings or the release of children, and advocate within the government for resources or procedures to ensure that as few children as possible are languishing in the system.
Recently, we have been blessed to get to know Finlay Wood. Fin just joined the team in Uganda, and will begin to formulate the justice component of the ministry in the remand homes. We celebrate Fin’s arrival and wanted to introduce him and his family to all of you (in his own words):
Hi there, Greetings from Kampala!! A warm dusty Kampala….
My name is Finlay Wood and I am 39 years old married for 12 years with 4 beauty full children. 3 girls and a boy who was born in Uganda. We have lived in Uganda for 5 years now and really do enjoy being here. I was born and raised in Zimbabwe and did all my schooling there. I then lived in the UK for 20 years until moving to Uganda in 2006.
We first came to start a project working with HIV+ orphans. I have a background in construction and project management. For the first 3 years I oversaw all the building work undertaken to be able to house these children. We also took part in establishing the NGO with all that that can entail. It was a fun, developmental and fruitful time for us all.
My wife Lucy, is a nurse by profession and training, and started up the healthcare services at the former NGO (but has been home with kids most of our marriage). We are still in touch with the project but my role ended after the initial 3 year term. Lucy’s ended when we had the boy!!
I have always had a passion for working in prisons and with young offenders, and did some training in this area in the UK. Now I felt it was the time to explore this work here in Uganda. I got connected with a great group, African Prisons Project (APP), which does prison work here in Uganda (www.africanprisons.org). I started with them earlier this year and am now fundraising and doing some advocacy work for them 3 days a week.
The other 2 days I began exploring working with juveniles here in Uganda through reading, visiting, meeting and researching what was already going on. I first met Dan Owens and heard about Sixty Feet, at the launch of our resource centre at the APP offices earlier this year. On a more recent visit I sat with Dan Owens and Scott Harty to learn more about Sixty Feet and see if there were any ways we could work together.
After a few months of dialogue, I am now working SixtyFeet as the Juvenile Advocate. My job will initially be for 2 days a week looking into cases where kids are being detained unlawfully and see how we can advocate and intervene in partnership with the local government of Uganda and the staff at the remand homes here in Uganda. I will also investigate how best we can foster a meaningful working relationship with the authorities to see action for the many kids who are not treated fairly, given a fair trial or detained beyond the legal requirements and stipulations.
I am grateful for the opportunity and look forward to seeing how we can advocate for justice for the many juveniles detained in the remand homes of Uganda. I am passionate about this area, these people and justice in general. Please continue to visit the blog to see how things develop and, above all, please pray with us and for us as we get our hands dirty on the front-lines pursuing justice for juveniles who have no voice.
Thank you for all your support to the work of SixtyFeet.
If you have any further questions or comments or want to give specifically to this work to cover the many varied costs associated with getting justice for these kids please do be in touch.
Seasons Greetings and a fruitful 2012 to you all,