The Karen Woo Foundation is a grant-giving Charity, focusing on supporting projects in Afghanistan which provide healthcare to communities which have little or no access to even basic medical provision.

Our Aims

Whilst the Charity has general charitable purposes, at present, the trustees wish to further the objects of the Charity by making grants which reflect the work and interests of Karen Woo. The trustees therefore want to make grants to support organisations, particularly in the following areas:

  • To provide healthcare to Afghans, in particular women and children
  • To support the training of healthcare providers (for example doctors and midwives) in Afghanistan, with a particular focus on those persons who provide assistance to mothers and children
  • To provide medical supplies to healthcare providers in Afghanistan, particularly in rural and remote areas where such supplies are scarce
  • To provide healthcare education to Afghan people, particularly those who have been denied a basic education, in order to equip them with the necessary skills and literacy to care for and support themselves and their families
  • To support the provision of healthcare to women in Afghan prisons
  • To promote awareness of the healthcare needs of women and children in Afghanistan

The Karen Woo Foundation

The Foundation has been setup by family and friends of Dr Karen Woo who was killed whilst on a medical aid mission in Afghanistan in August 2010.

The team she was part of had taken a week to trek to the remote province of Nuristan where, over the course of 8 days they treated in excess of 1500 people for ophthalmic, dental and general medical problems. Some of those seeking medical assistance had walked for 3-4 days to the village of Parun, where the group had based itself, upon hearing that medics had arrived in the area. This is indicative of the complete lack of basic healthcare resources in much of rural Afghanistan and this fundamental requirement was one of the driving factors for Karen. She strived to increase access to medical care for those in the country who need it most.

Karen’s primary aim over the last 18 months of her life was to make a film to increase awareness of the desperate suffering in much of the country and show the human side to Afghanistan; one that receives very little coverage in the general media due to the emphasis on the ongoing conflict. Once completed, Karen hoped to use her documentary to raise funds for the small charity she had started, using the money to improve health and education programs, particularly those that focus on neonatal, paediatric and maternal health.

It is those projects, the ones that were close to Karen’s heart, that the Karen Woo Foundation now supports. Afghanistan is a complex and sometimes dangerous environment and it is against this background that we have to operate. This is a country where people delay seeking care, delay getting to a place where they can receive care, and even once there, there is often a delay in receiving care.

At an even more basic level, there is a lack of health education, extreme malnutrition and limited vaccination programs. The harsh conditions exacerbate the problems for those with medical conditions. Half of those who lose their sight die within 2 years; 1 in 5 children die before the age of 1; in rural areas, 1 in 6 die during childbirth.

With that knowledge, the Karen Woo Foundation raises funds to support programs, in particular targeting areas that have been neglected. By carefully selecting fields and individual programs it is possible to have a far reaching and sustainable effect. The trustees have taken responsibility to ensure that every penny contributed is used to best effect. Every little helps.

Through your kind donations, sponsored events and support we can aim to carry on Karen’s heart’s desire to help those in need.