Irishwoman killed in blast was due to leave Uganda

Kampala, Uganda - THE IRISHWOMAN killed in Sunday night’s bomb attacks in Kampala has been named as Marie Smith, aged 51.

Ms Smith was due to return next week to South Africa. She was based in Johannesburg with the Family International missionary group. Established in southern California in 1968, the group is dedicated to spreading the gospel worldwide and has a presence in 90 countries.

Ms Smith was completing a two-month stint as a volunteer with sister group Family Care in Uganda where she had been conducting bible study classes, counselling sessions, prayer groups and general missionary work.

“This is a huge shock to us,” said Malaika Danmola, a fellow member of the organisation in Kampala. “She was a very caring person and the work that she was doing here was invaluable.”

A widow with three sons, Ms Smith, whose maiden name was O’Sullivan, had been in Africa since 1989. Two of her sons work with Family International in Brazil. All three sons, Benjamin, Roger and Samuel, and her brother, who lives in Dublin, were on their way to Kampala last night.

Speaking to The Irish Times last night, Malaika Joy, who had worked with Ms Smith in Kampala, recalled “a very lovely, bubbly, very caring woman who was always concerned about what was going on in people’s lives. It is just very sad”.

In an e-mail to this newspaper from Kampala yesterday, Tina, who worked with Ms Smith at a sister branch of Family Care, recalled how she “loved having long chats [with her]”.

“Marie was a dedicated missionary who had a talent for languages and understanding the local culture. She was outgoing, friendly and loved adopting the African hairstyles.”

Family International was originally known as The Children of God. Its founder was David Berg, a controversial figure who believed Christians should emulate the church of the first century.