In September 1981 a group of six Worcestershire farmers met at the home of David and Di Harper.
As friends they shared a concern at the dreadful news coming from Ethiopia after a drought had wiped out harvests, plunging millions into poverty. A similar story was being told across Africa, but while hunger ravaged the continent, European farmers were being subsidised to produce more food than could be consumed.
They resolved to do something to help and formed the Farmers Overseas Action Group (FOAG). The group began meeting regularly to discuss Africa, agriculture and practical ways they could help. Speakers from different aid agencies were invited to these meetings with the aim of creating awareness of the issues facing the continent.
But it wasn’t until FOAG hosted a Ugandan speaker that the spark was lit. He talked of how Uganda had suffered under the Idi Amin years and how conditions had worsened following the restoration of Milton Obote to power in 1981. He concluded his talk with a challenge to the group to consider visiting Uganda to see the desperate need for themselves.
In January 1984 David Harper and Malcolm Rankin responded to that challenge with a visit to Uganda where they discovered an overwhelming need in every area. It became obvious that awareness was not enough – action was needed if FOAG was going to live up to its name. And so began a process of raising funds to support small-scale projects in rural Uganda.