Wings of Hope (charity)

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Wings of Hope
Founded 1962
Type Non-Profit Organization
Focus Supplying resources to raise the poor to a level of self-sufficiency.
Area served
47 countries at 157 bases of operation

Wings of Hope, founded in 1962, is one of the oldest and largest volunteer humanitarian charities in the world and the largest volunteer charity in the Midwestern United States. They use whatever resources are required to effect a positive change in the future for a selected region of the world. This includes general aviation aircraft, motorized boats or even delivering fully equipped mobile hospitals – anything that will help the marginalized citizens of a region onto the patch of self-reliance.

Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, it is actually one of the few whole-Earth charities as its 3,000+ worldwide volunteers consist of many nationalities and never set agendas or boundaries. They operate in 47 countries at 157 bases of operation (sic 2013).

Wings of Hope is strictly humanitarian, meaning it has no agenda or ulterior motive. They work so that the impoverished of the world can achieve their dreams, not someone else’s.

Generally, they provide resources from the bottom up starting at the smallest elements of human society, rather than from the top down approach. They instill peace and hope as expected norms rather than constant or routine suffering.

The charity was nominated for the 2011 and 2012 Nobel Peace Prize.[1][2]

Wings of Hope currently has a 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator, the most experienced charity evaluator in the United States [3] and a Gold Star rating on GuideStar [4] (both the highest rating). In 2012, 92.7% of the charity’s budget was spent on the programs and services it delivers. Wings of Hope is fiercely financially transparent. Their board receives no funds from the organization and neither does any spokesperson. Additionally, Wings of Hope solicits an outside annual audit of all of its financial records as a hallmark of their honesty and transparency. Less than 10% of American charities allow their finances to be scrutinized by independent, outside auditors.


Wings of Hope was founded in 1962 by four St. Louis business executives. They were ordinary men who had a vision. They had heard about a nurse in the Turkana desert of Kenya who needed help in reaching out to women and children. These four men decided to provide her with more modern resources and supplies, including a small aircraft because there were no roads. They formed Wings of Hope. Word spread throughout the world. Requests came in from remote and isolated areas pleading for assistance. So, they formed the philosophies Wings of Hope still uses today:

1) Be totally non-sectarian.

2) Have no politics.

3) Give no regard to race.

4) Be composed of volunteers who share the burden of providing only humanitarian services.

5) Establish programs that work to alleviate the causes of the problem, helping the poor to not need charity.

6) Accept no donations from the federal government.

7) Work from the bottom up, and waste very little resources with the highly bureaucratic “top-down” process.


Wings of Hope, Inc., operates worldwide in 47 countries. Villages are not required to meet any conditions to receive aid. 90% of all funds generally are directed to its program services.[5] Major portions of its efforts are focused in the following areas:

  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Community development
  • Sustainable food and water processes
  • Micro-loans for women-owned businesses
  • Supplies and goods to improve infrastructure
  • Peace and Conflict Resolution negotiations
  • Women's issues

Wings of Hope is a recognized international resource, specializing in implementing poverty-reduction strategies for a defined region. This is accomplished by establishing a base of operations and partnering with the poor being served. The services at each base are customized depending upon the needs of the region. The common denominator is always health care and a transportation system, typically a small bush airplane. The tears of a mother in the remote jungle are the same as a mother's tears in the asphalt jungle of any modern city. They need a way to access whatever resources, training and skills that can help them dig their own way into a better future. All programs and services are implemented as partnerships are strengthened. The goal is to change the course of humanity towards peace and hope.

Medical air transport[edit]

Wings of Hope created the U.S.-based Medical Relief and Air Transport (MAT) program in 2003 with the goal of providing equal access to advanced medical care to all U.S. children. The MAT provides service to more than 700 patients every year.[6] The MAT is the only free Air Ambulance program in the nation, providing life-saving medical care, including any transportation and patient advocate services to all that ask. The service of the MAT is generally centered on the 26 Midwestern states. The MAT locates and arranges for advanced health care—usually for children with massive birth defects—acts as the patient advocate in resolving issues with that care, and then transports them to and from that care for years until all treatments are completed.[7] The service is provided at no cost and the organization does not accept reimbursement from insurers or the government.[8]

International bases[edit]

Wings of Hope operates over 157 bases in 47 countries. The goal is not simply to provide aid but rather to help communities achieve self-sufficiency [9] and sustainable development. The volunteers come from varied backgrounds and professions, from mechanics to doctors, and together they help the sick, teach, build a community, develop businesses and do everything conceivable to build a region into a level of being able to take care of itself.

Bases are located in North, Central, and South America, Africa, Southeast Asia and Australia.

Since 1962, approximately 18 bases have closed because the organization deemed that the communities had achieved sustainable self-sufficiency.


Wings of Hope helps more than one million people a year by aiding in infrastructure development in places as varied as Haiti and Congo. There are over 3,000 volunteers dedicated to delivering the humanity of donors to their fellow man: the most impoverished people on earth. The goals of these projects are to:

  • Teach them to not need a charity.
  • Show them how to become self-sufficient.
  • Provide the resources and expertise to get them to this goal.
  • Stand by them, throughout their journey to becoming capable participants in their society.
  • Doing whatever it takes with whatever resources and funding are available, usually starting with basic healthcare and sustenance and then adding small business development, educational systems, community based dialogs and infrastructure improvements.
  • Develop hope by teaching the poor to plan and invest in the future, so they can gain greater and lasting benefits.

Some examples of Wings of Hope’s current projects include:

  • The Nepal Women's Education Project & Health Clinic, which provides training in basic health care and reproductive health to local women who then become knowledgeable and empowered educators within their communities, allowing the clinic’s impact to ripple through villages in every corner of the district. This training elevates these women’s status within their communities and contributes towards a cultural shift towards equality in an area where women are often treated as property.
  • The Sustainable Food Project addresses the lack of skills and resources to raise sustainable food sources by working with indigenous tribes to set up and implement small, easily replicable chicken, fish and pig farms, small family gardens – whatever is required for the successful acquisition of animal and plant proteins without harming the environment.
  • The Solar Project provides solar panels and 12 volt lights to homes in remote areas so that families have an additional 2–3 hours of light to learn to read, or any other family educational needs, without impacting their daily chores.
  • The Water Well Project focuses on installing bored wells to provide clean, easily accessible water supplies to villages and schools. The project consists of a bored well and simple well head—allowing for local collection without excessive wastage—powered by solar energy, with a hand pump as a backup power source.
  • The Women’s Business Project provides funds and resources so women can design an income producing small business for their family. These can be whatever they believe possible and Wings of Hope, along with their partners provide training, logistics and marketing support, start-up funds – whatever is needed to insure success.

Examples of countries/regions of operation[edit]

The Amazon Rain Forest, Ecuador

For more than ten years Wings of Hope has been serving the five tribal groups: Waoroni, Shiwia, Kichwa, Achuar and Shuar Ecuadorian. They are spread out in Ecuador, northern Peru and Southern Colombia rain forests. Most of this work takes places from bases in Puyo, the capital of the state of Pastaza, and the nearby town of Shell, about 200 miles south of Quito Ecuador. The indigenous people have had a similar experience as the North American Indian tribes. They are poor, do not speak the common language and have been severely abused. Wings of Hope has been instrumental in working with the tribes and Ecuadorian government to bring humanitarian aid, including having a pilot fly among the villages delivering construction material, providing medical supplies, or transporting the sick or injured to a hospital. The delivery could also provide skilled volunteers to a village to provide a service the village does not have – for example: an inoculation campaign, sustainable food programs, or a source of fresh water. This is being done in varying degrees throughout the rain forest.

Zambia, Africa

Zambia is Wings of Hope’s 41st country of operation, established in 2006. In a country of 14.5 million, the entire middle generation is dead or dying from infectious disease: AIDS, Yellow Fever, Malaria, Sleeping Sickness, etc. So children are taking care of children. The entire country is wrapped in a tight blanket of hopelessness. The challenges to treating the problems in Zambia are complicated by the sheer size of the country. Zambia is huge, about the size of France, England and the Republic of Ireland all combined. Only with specially equipped aircraft can these communities be reached.

Notable supporters[edit]

From the Wings of Hope website [2]:


  • World Trade Center Saint Louis 2005 "Global Ambassador Award"[10]
  • National Aeronautic Association National Public Benefit Flying Award in 2004[11] and 2007[12]
  • Global Peace Award – Presbyterian Church
  • Knight of St. Sylvester – Roman Catholic Church
  • Adela Scharr Medal
  • George Washington Freedom Medal
  • United Nations Humanitarian Award – United Nations


  1. ^ "Nobel Prize Nomination For St. Louis' Wings Of Hope" Huffington Post. Retrieved Jan 27, 2014.
  2. ^ "Wings Of Hope St. Louis Charity Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize" (Video). Fox 2 News. Retrieved Jan 27, 2014.
  3. ^ "Wings of Hope". Charity Navigator. Retrieved Jan 27, 2014.
  4. ^ "Wings of Hope, Inc." GuideStar. Retrieved Jan 27, 2014.
  5. ^ "Wings of Hope". Charity Navigator. Retrieved Jan 27, 2014.
  6. ^ "Hope takes flight". General Aviation News. Retrieved Jan 27, 2014.
  7. ^ “Wings of Hope’s humanitarian efforts span the globe”. Newsmagazine Network. Retrieved Jan 27, 2014.
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Good News Agency, (scroll two-thirds down).
  10. ^ PR Leap
  11. ^ Aircare All 2004 Award List
  12. ^ Aircare All 2007 Award List

External links[edit]