Former kidnap victim Fr John is fundraising for a tractor for Africa

July 31st, 2019 5:51 PM

By Emma Connolly

Fr John Kingston is fundraising to purchase a tractor for his Mozambique mission, and the DeCourcey Vintage Club is supporting his project. (Photo: Donie Hurley)

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We've two wheels secured, thanks to the people of West Cork, and now we're asking them to help us get the other two, but we're up against the clock.

WE’VE two wheels secured, thanks to the people of West Cork, and now we’re asking them to help us get the other two, but we’re up against the clock.

That’s the appeal from the West Cork Community Fundraising group whose objective is to raise enough money to purchase a tractor for an African missionary led by Clonakilty priest Fr John Kingston. 

Fr John made headlines when was shot, kidnapped and held hostage while working in Angola in 1985 and his family had an anxious wait before they got confirmation he was alive. Undeterred, he has continued his work with those most in need and his mission currently has use of 100 hectares of land in Chimolo, Mozambique where his wish is to  educate local people on how farm it sustainably. 

However, he risks losing it to the government unless they can put the land to productive use and with only basic tools available to them, they’re facing a serious challenge.

Mary White, a cousin of Fr John, and James Healy, both of the committee explain: ‘The mission does not have the resources to use the land sustainably. They are using hand tools to currently farm the land and are a century behind modern agricultural practices. Our aim is to provide a tractor and implements to help them make more use of the land, and hold on to it.’

The target is to raise €30,000 for a disc plough which is best suited to the terrain and thanks to a recent  Head2Head cycle and other fundraisers they are well on their way, but a final push is needed before Christmas. 

Mary said: ‘The demand on Fr John’s mission is incredibly high due to factors such as drought, war and the current economic state of Mozambique. There is little he can do on his own but he works tirelessly to teach the people how to farm sustainably. He does this by giving them seeds and tools to till some parish land.

‘But the government there is telling communities that any of their unused lands will be allocated to others, most likely large plantation farmers. This would be a huge disadvantage to Fr John’s mission. To this end we’d hope the tractor and machinery would help them use and keep their land, and help poor locals in danger of eviction.’

For many years the West Cork community has supported Fr John with his work in Mozambique, through an annual Christmas swim in Inchydoney. But in his own words having a tractor ‘is a dream we have.’

The missionary priest said when people move from other areas to their community they don’t ask for luxuries but for tools to clear land for crops and to rebuild their homes. 

‘Having a tractor to help is a dream we have,’ said Fr Kingston who was on a visit home this month and The DeCourcey Harvest Working Day on Bank Holiday Monday, August 5th in Sandycove,  Ballinspittle will help bring Fr John closer to his dream with proceeds from the event going to the tractor fund. 

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