The Karen Woo Foundation aims and objectives

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

Forms and Documents

If you would like further details about the areas that the Karen Woo Foundation, and the criteria for application then please get in touch so we can provide you with all the information you need.

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 Foundation intends to support. 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, once there, often, there is a delay in receiving care. Beyond that, 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 - 1 in every 2 people 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 is seeking to raise funds to support programs, targeting areas that have been neglected thus far. By carefully selecting fields and individual programs it is possible to have a far reaching and sustainable effect and it is the trustees responsibility to ensure that every penny contributed is used to best result. Every little helps.

With your kind donations and support we can aim to carry on Karen's heart's desire to help those in need.

Who are we? The Karen Woo Foundation trustees

In 1968 I qualified as a State registered nurse at The Westminster Hospital. Having developed an interest in Psychiatry I trained at the Maudsley and Bethlem Hospital as Registered Mental Nurse. Apart from ten years at home with my 3 children, Karen, David and Andrew I have worked on the wards in the NHS and then in the community. Recently, I became a Trainee High Intensity Therapist in an Enhanced Primary Care Team, part of the initiative to Improve Access to Psychological Therapies, IAPT.

I have no previous experience of charity work beyond occasionally helping with door to door collections, for The National Childrens' Home and The Red Cross. Inspired by my daughter's enthusiasm and commitment to improving the provision of healthcare in Afghanistan and wanting a lasting memorial to her, I am now learning both how to raise funds and how to direct them.

I am a qualified chartered surveyor and having trained in agriculture and estate management, I now run a property business in London. Having worked closely with Karen on fundraising events for medical projects and aid in Afghanistan, I was aware of Karen's passion and determination to make a difference and the need to see her work continue. I played a coordinating role in helping to start up the Foundation, together with the family, and now act as secretary as well as being responsible for fundraising events.

I am a Senior Commercial Performance Manager for Sky, responsible for TV products retention in the Sales and Marketing Group.  Prior to this I was a Business Analyst for AdminRe UK, a Life Company in Hertfordshire, for 9 years, after graduating from Plymouth University with a degree in Mathematics and Computing. I am the younger of Karen's two brothers. Brought up by our parents to have a compassionate world view, I have been inspired by Karen's enthusiasm to take action to make a difference. I believe the Karen Woo Foundation, working alongside other organisations, can help support sustainable projects to establish a long-term legacy.

I studied philosophy at the University of Warwick and Queens University, Canada. After some early technical work as a Systems Developer in the private sector, I then moved into marketing and communications, and into the third sector. In particular I have been working for organisations whose philosophical and ethical outlook I share: I was Head of Membership at the British Humanist Association, then worked for a year in situ with the Uganda Humanist Association, before taking up my current role as Director of Communications at the International Humanist and Ethical Union, where my remit covers policy, campaigns, fundraising, and communications both externally and to membership.

I met Karen briefly, at a fundraiser for her work which I attended with a friend, shortly before her final visit to Afghanistan. I was deeply impressed by her passion, sincerity and commitment.