Our Story

In January 2007, Julia Piper, David Piper (myself), and Jo Rhodes went to Ghana, Africa, sponsored by Private General Practice Services to see what difference we could make to relieve poverty there.

The impetus for the trip came when I was recovering from a nasty illness and to help me recover I had prayed for help. God answered my prayers and said that I should go abroad and do some charity work. I asked him to give me an opportunity and the next day my mother spontaneously asked me if I wanted to see a friend of hers in Ghana. Mums friend was called Anthony Pile and ran Blue Skies a fresh cut fruit processing factory that supplies Sainsburies and Waitrose with fresh cut fruit. Mum had inspired Anthony to set up his factory from nothing and he had done so successfully in the harsh business terrain of Sub Saharan Africa.

When in Ghana, we started out from Accra airport, and embarked upon our 40 minute drive to Blue Skies’ factory. From Accra, though it quickly became apparent how undeveloped the regions were. The few concrete roads soon deteriorated to mud, where potholes were plenty and an organized roadsystem rare.

The houses which lined the road during most of our visit were ramshackle huts, some made from bits of wood collected, bits of corrugate iron, and some made of straw. Ghana however is not the most undeveloped of Africas countries. There are busy makeshift markets, a lively atmosphere, and people who are generally busy and going about some business. That is the case nearer the towns where there are schools, and children in school uniforms, supported by international aid and funding through the government. But education is one of the successes of Ghana with around 80% of the population signed up.

Our initial stay at Blue Skies allowed us to investigate the surrounding communities and the communities related to the Blue Skies factory and the Blue Skies factory itself. The Blue Skies plant, British owned won a recent award for sustainable development from the Queen. The Plant employs around 1000 people and supports around 10,000 in the community. The factory has provided electricity and water supply to surrounding communities as well as providing rare examples of health care to the factory employees.

Dr Piper of Private General Practice Services and founder of the Foundation provided medical advice and medical equipment to open a new clinic (pictured bleow) at the factory. One of the problems was the use of the same needles for injections between different people, a basic problem that can stimulate the spread of AIDS, that we would not think of doing in the developed world.

During the visit we visited an orphanage for blind and deaf children (pictured below). The children had a school and teachers, but funding for their food and water was low and the government was failing to provide the money it had promised.

We also visited the pineapple and mango plantations for the factory. The chief agronomist expressed to me that people were happy when there were jobs around. The various fruits were picked by hand, and processed at the factory before being shipped by air freight to supermarkets such as Sainsbury's in Europe. In the more local plantations we stopped in a local village for a photo with the locals (below). We took a small amount of pens and pencils to give to the children, but on visiting some of the villages a second time, they almost expected gifts as a formality.


The Central Region of Ghana contained more plantations, and we went there to see some of the poorer villages. The Central Regions are near the coast and along the way we visited Cape Coast Castle, one of Ghanas tourist attractions. The castle is infamous for its slave trade by countries like Britain and Holland. From here local tribesmen were captured and shipped to America as slaves. It was at the time we were there the celebration of 50 years of Ghanas independence, and the castle encouraged descendants of the slaves to walk back through the castle gates where they were once led out to the ships.

On returning to the UK we decided to set up a charity where we could do something to make a difference for poverty. I personally investigated what could be done to help. I learnt that the Millennium Development Goals were the worlds main effort towards ending poverty and that they were the cumulative view  of many world experts in the subject. See our article on solutions to end poverty that have arisen from this. Also see our article on poverty for background information.

Subsequently we asked Blue Skies to conduct a survey of the villages to see what they wanted in help. Various lists of demands were supplied, ranging from toilets, water wells, to teaching quarters and community centres.

Following a subsequent visit to Ghana we completed one of these programs in the form of a community centre. We had wanted to do a water program but by the time of the second visit the villages had found other supporters to fulfil this role.  See our Ghana Central Region Program.

During the second visit some teachers from a supporting UK school visited to see how they could help. They explored various options such as supporting the schools with IT equipment and communicating via the internet, however despite the odd school having electricity, virtually no schools had the internet and in the end it was difficult to make a connection. The Foundation did supply some equipment in the form of books and other useful objects to one of the schools. The schools also helped fundraise for the trip.  

Following completion of the Community Centre we have now decided to focus on water and sanitation seeing as it fits in with the worlds opinion on the Millennium Development Goals. We are now looking into supporting people in Mali with our Mali Program.

Despite the strength and will of the local people in Africa it is very hard for them to break the cycle of poverty they are in. A range of problems from family deaths to natural disasters and global warming make it difficult for families to progress. In Africa, Jeffrey Sachs, a well known global economists cites Malaria as maybe being the difference between growth Asia and the African sub continent. It is the harrowing array of death and disease which regularly kills people off which is the main problem. Corruption exists, but no more so than in countries which do develop and so although present is not cited as the main problem.

'Yet there is plenty of food in the world for everyone. The problem is that hungry people are trapped in severe poverty. They lack the money to buy enough food to nourish themselves. Being constantly malnourished, they become weaker and often sick. This makes them increasingly less able to work, which then makes them even poorer and hungrier. This downward spiral often continues until death for them and their families.' www.poverty .com.

It was the case when we visited Ghana that people were often infected with and dying from Malaria. Daily funerals were common. Key workers on vital infrastructure projects died on the job, leaving no one to fill there position. Children had to walk far for water and far to school.

Please consider these important issues and donate to our charity today to help end poverty.