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Welcome to our new member – MAD Foundation
WYSE News | February 22, 2024

The MAD (Make a Difference) Foundation helps people in some of the world’s poorest countries to help themselves, by working with them at a grassroots level to develop much needed community resources.

1. Can you elaborate a little more on who you are and how MAD Foundation started?

I am John Lawler, Chief and Founder of MAD (Make A Difference) Foundation, which I started when I was a student at Newcastle University 25 years ago after a gap year in Ghana. During my own volunteering, teaching at a rural secondary school, the village asked me to become Chief of Development under the stool name Torgbui Mottey I, which translates as Pioneering Pathfinder of the Forest. ‘Madventurer’ Projects were born taking fellow students back to undertake development work and since 1998 we have taken our over 8000 young people to work on over 350 project sites.

2. Could you provide further details about Operation SafeDrop in Ukraine? Which resources are you relying on to ensure the success of this operation?

On 24 February 2022 we all witnessed the injustice of Ukraine being invaded and thousands of families having to flee their homes, leave loved ones behind and find shelter. We set up Operation SafeDrop as our Mission in Ukraine to initially focus on using volunteer drivers and translators to help people who were crossing the border into Poland, mostly on foot, to work out their next steps. We moved around 2,500 individuals in the first two months across Europe and arranged UK visas and homes for hundreds of families. We then set up base in Lviv and since then focussed on further evacuations, humanitarian aid sourcing and delivery, repair and rebuild projects and also a walking blood bank project. Many of our Madventurer Alumni have donated funds, both individually and from corporates and communities they are now involved in to keep sustaining our Operation.

3. If there are volunteers willing to support your cause, how can they reach out to you?

In 2024, we will be launching the seeds of a Ukrainain volunteer program which will focus on assisting in our large warehouse in Lviv to sort and prepare aid, which is growing from new EU partnerships. We will also be asking volunteers, both through sending partners who can help recruit participants who are in position to volunteer in Ukraine at this time, to help fundraise towards our pilot repair and rebuild projects which work alongside skilled workers in rural areas. Outside of Ukraine, and for those not comfortable or able to support our projects on the ground, we need volunteers globally to help spread the word via social media and engage in local fundraising. It is hoped that when the war ends or a ceasefire happens, that these volunteers through partnerships and connections, will then have the chance to visit Ukraine and get involved in education and development projects to rebuild what has been lost. Follow Operation SafeDrop on all the usual social media platforms or visit to contact the team.

Member snapshot

MAD Foundation’s Operation Safe Drop in Ukraine has been working on the ground in since March 2022. Our mission is currently covering 6 key objectives to provide support and assistance as necessary to the following:

  • Source and deliver aid to locations across Ukraine, including by working with trusted partners to verify and prioritize types of aid and delivery locations.
  • Extract vulnerable groups and individuals from frontline and unsafe locations within Ukraine to our base in Lviv and across the border to Poland with our specialist extraction teams.
  • Provide specialist medical evacuation for patients from Southern & Eastern Ukraine to receive specialist treatment in the EU.
  • Provide a free blood type testing service across Ukraine.
  • Support local communities to construct bomb shelters for schools in border communities.
    Rebuild critical infrastructure after the war

Membership type: Associate Member
Country: UK

MAD Foundation | 2024 WYSE Travel Confederation member