60 Years of Impact
Since 1958, we have confronted the world’s greatest health challenges and daunting emergencies. We have responded to hurricanes and earthquakes and the humanitarian consequences of civil war. We were on the frontlines of an Ebola outbreak in Africa and rebuilt creaking public health networks in the Soviet bloc during the Cold War and after the Iron Curtain fell. When deadly tsunamis hit Japan and Southeast Asia, Project HOPE was quick to deploy and stayed for months.
We have built health systems from the ground up and repaired others in the developing world, building a legacy of functioning health infrastructure that will endure for generations. Two million trained health care workers around the world and many hospitals, from Asia to Africa and Central America to Eastern Europe, bear witness to HOPE’s legacy of care.
It all started when Project HOPE’s founder, Dr. William B. Walsh, M.D., was moved by poor health conditions he encountered in the South Pacific, while serving on a Navy destroyer during World War II. In 1958, Dr. Walsh worked with U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in order to charter a U.S. Navy hospital ship for $1/year. A donor contributed $150 to get Project HOPE started and, with the support of corporations and generous benefactors, the ship was transformed into the SS HOPE.
Over the following 14 years, the SS HOPE made 11 voyages to serve the world’s most vulnerable people in every region of the world, providing health care for local communities and building health systems that could renew themselves for decades to come.
Since 1974, Project HOPE has been conducting land-based programs, carrying on the legacy of Dr. Walsh. The spirit of the SS HOPE lives on today through our global and local staff, technical experts and medical volunteers working in 26 countries, building the capacity of the health workforce in communities that need it most.
60 Years of Impact
1958 – Dr. William B. Walsh works with President Dwight Eisenhower in order to charter a retired Navy hospital vessel for $1/year – refitting it to become the first peacetime hospital ship, the SS HOPE.
1960’s – SS HOPE begins its first journey of training local health care professionals and providing medical care to people in need around the globe.
1970’s – Expansion to land-based programs, and is the only U.S. private volunteer organization to work behind the Iron Curtain to improve health services to children in Poland.
1980’s – Combatting infectious diseases extends to HIV/AIDS, with prevention programs launched in Malawi that eventually reach more than one million people.
1990’s – Reaching those in greatest need – from serving neglected communities in South America with maternal and child health programs and offering medical relief assistance to those ravaged by the war in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia to establishing a now state-of-the-art children’s hospital in Shanghai.
2000’s – Answering the call in times of disaster, providing humanitarian relief to those affected by Hurricane Katrina and the Indonesian tsunami in Southeast Asia.
2010’s – HOPE volunteers continue our legacy of improving global health through hands-on medical training for local health care workers, transforming health care delivery for entire communities. We call it the “Multiplier Effect.”
Today – 60 years of bringing HOPE and health to tens of millions of people in more than 100 countries, training over two million medical professionals and providing over $2 billion worth of medicines and supplies. Today, we are active in 26 countries, bringing HOPE and health to underserved communities around the world.