Mission & Story
Mission & Story

The Mission of Bridges of Hope

To build bridges into the lives of those who are suffering in order to create long‐term, self‐sustaining solutions to the deep problems of our world.


How It All Started

Bridges of Hope International is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2002 by Dennis and Susan Wadley of Santa Barbara, California. The Wadleys first learned about the HIV/AIDS pandemic through Time magazine and subsequently made two visits to South Africa for the purpose of learning first hand about the effects of the disease. After falling in love with the people and the country, the Wadleys assembled a team, received training and moved to the Cape Town area in 2003 where they founded a second non-profit called Bridges of Hope South Africa.

Partnering with St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Philippi, a devasted township of 100,000 people in the center of the Cape Flats, the Wadleys and their team trained a Committee of community members in principles of grass roots, holistic Community Development. Together they created Micro-enterprises, HIV/AIDS Support Groups, After School Programs, Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Support Groups, Gang Member Outreach and Rehabilitation, Computer Training Centers, and the heart of Bridges of Hope’s development strategy, the Community Health Education (CHE) Program.

As the Bridges Staff and Volunteers worked with the growing population of Orphans and Vulnerable Children, it became clear that these children were falling into gangs, sexual activity, HIV infection and pregnancy at alarming rates.  Thus the vision for Bridges Academy, a boarding school for Orphans and Vulnerable Children was born.

In 2007 Bridges purchased a beautiful 5 hectare (12.5 acre) farm in Franschhoek, a peaceful community about 45 minutes outside of Philippi.  We developed one section of the property as a Retreat Center, which hosts year-round camps and leadership retreats for children and adults from the Cape Flats. Bridges also uses the Retreat Center as a means of financial sustainability, by renting it out to guest groups, as well as visiting teams from the US and other countries.

In 2009, the Wadleys were asked to visit Mekele, Ethiopia to look into planting a Community Health Education (CHE) Program there.  They were unexpectedly introduced to the leadership of the St. Frumentius Ethiopian Orthodox Theological College, and after forming a quick and natural bond, were invited to launch the nation’s first Ethiopian Orthodox Masters Program.

Bridges of Hope has always valued partnering with other organizations and churches, and has helped to launch CHE programs in Swaziland, the US and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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