Winds of Hope

The Winds of Hope foundation was set up following the Breitling Orbiter 3 success with the one million dollars offered by Anheuser Busch as part of the Budweiser Prize for the first flight around the world by balloon.   Our sponsor Breitling was also very generous and became a key partner in the functioning of the foundation.

When Bertrand and I were flying over Africa, we were captivated by the beauty of the landscape below us.  Then we were struck by the paradox, "how can the magnificence of this part of the planet be home to some of the worst misery imaginable?"  We simply could not accept the rewards and adulation which came with success without revisiting the perverse inequality that allows us to realise a dream whilst unwittingly overflying children dying needlessly.

Our desire to help has evolved in the time since the flight into a determination to rid the world of one of the most shocking diseases I have ever seen.  It is Noma - a disease which kills 80% of it's young 100,000 victims each year.  A gangrene-like infection which starts in a child's mouth and within a very few weeks can completely destroy the facial tissue causing a huge hole to appear where previously there had been a cheek, nose or eye.  Should victims be 'lucky' enough to survive, they will face a multitude of surgical procedures if discovered by a specialist charitable organisation.  If undiscovered they will likely be hidden from view in their own village for fear of demonstrating the curse, which the family believe to have been inflicted upon them, through their hideously disfigured face. 

Had diagnosis occured in the early stages, the disease could have been stopped dead in it's tracks by the use of antiseptic mouthwash or simple antibiotics.

Winds of Hope, together with the WHO and local NGO's, have effected a programme of prevention and early detection in Niger by training over 2,000 health workers to explain the disease process to the local population and look for the early signs and treat accordingly.

Having experienced success in Niger, we are now working in Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin, Togo and Senegal to do the same. Our plan is then to progress to other countries where noma is prevalent, and hope to eventually achieve the eradication of this terrible and unnecessary scourge.

If you would care to make a donation and help us in our goal, you may do so on the Winds of Hope website.

All donations will be acknowledged, we guarantee that 100% of your gift will fund the fight against noma, there is no deduction for administration.  Thank you.

The winds of Hope balloon was generously donated by Ultramagic Balloons, Spain (

It is used to help raise public awareness and funds for the cause.

See the photo gallery for more pictures.