History & People


Since our small beginnings nearly 20 years ago, The Mango Tree has grown to a community of over 250 staff and volunteers in East Africa, working alongside a small staff team and board of trustees in the UK. In the countries where we work, we become part of a wide local family, training and working together with the communities we exist to serve.

The Mango Tree was founded by William & Gail Fulton and Bob Dowson in 2003 as a humanitarian response to HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa with a vision to save lives, educate, strengthen communities and reduce inequality in poor, remote rural areas. Beginning in Tanzania, providing food, intermediate care and education for vulnerable children – in 2006, an orphan care programme was established in Homabay County, Kenya.

Our approach in those early years was to support orphaned children by ensuring that they remain living in their communities within guardian families and family based foster care rather than institutionalised in orphanages.

The Mango Tree has been investing in education for development since 2003. Back at the beginning of our journey, we simply wanted to provide structure and a sense of normality in the lives of orphaned children during the AIDS crisis. Later it became about rebuilding communities and enabling greater social and economic progress. What remains constant is that, for almost 20 years, we have worked hand in hand with African-led organisations, structures and institutions; ensuring maximum charitable investment goes to the heart of African rural communities - where funding is most needed.

It all starts in particularly badly hit areas in southwest Tanzania

The Mango Tree registers 1,090 orphans providing school uniforms, books, shoes and porridge

The Mango Tree Nutrition Centre

Our nutrition centre opens and we register 2,200 orphans

The Mango Tree Expands

3,950 orphans are registered and The Mango Tree expands to new communities across Kyela District

Education for Orphans Improves

Over 5,000 orphans are registered and 750 progress from primary school to secondary school

Kenya's New Programme

A new programme is created in Kenya and 900 orphans are registered in the Kosele area, Rachyonyo District, bringing the total registered orphans to 7,400.

Model Village Projects

The launch of model village projects in Kenya - Adita goat breeding and mango tree farming. The Mango Tree Orphan registration peaks at 13,371

Google fund our work

13,550 orphans registered - some complete secondary school and enter work or farming. 2,768 are in secondary school and 284 are now supported at college and university. The Mango Tree wins US$1 million from Google. Water projects start in Tanzania.

We launch our innovative model of foster care

12,259 orphans registered - The Mango Tree prioritises girls' education by launching our innovative family based foster care programme in Kenya

The Keyla Polytechnic College Project Begins

Construction of the Kyela Polytechnic College in Tanzania begins. The Mango Tree Family Association forms with 126 tertiary students in Kenya to provide volunteer holiday tuition to The Mango Tree registered orphans

Kyela Polytechnic College Opens

The Kyela Polytechnic College officially opens. 12 sponsored orphans climb Mt Kilimanjaro and raise £46,892. HIV awareness raising programmes develop in both countries. Major research study is carried out providing us with important baseline data from both project areas that will inform new work

The Mango Tree Shifts Focus

Registered orphan numbers gradually begin to decrease as many leave college and university and The Mango Tree shifts focus to sustainable livelihoods and social enterprise development with the launch of our Skills 4 Life project for guardians and people living with HIV

Model Farm Projects Expand

The Mango Tree Kenya expands their model farm projects. Kyela Polytechnic College increases students numbers, and expands courses on offer. We win a three year grant from The Waterloo Foundation to deliver a new environmental social enterprise project

Growing and evolving

Structurally, our organisations in the UK and Africa are growing and evolving. We want to remain small, dynamic and flexible. We look to increase collaboration with new partners, shift emphasis away from donor dependency and invest in sustainable, African, social enterprises

What your donation means
What your donation means 20,000 children and young people have access to education and training as a result of your support.