John Gallagher’s family owns Del Prado, a line of gourmet nectars and juices in Panama. When John was asked to help bring the Del Prado business to the U.S., he used it as an opportunity to fulfill his wish to create a foundation based in social responsibility by helping areas of the world that are most in need, with a particular focus on children.
Love+Water- What prompted you to start your The Children of Ayacucho Fund through Del Prado?
John Gallagher- Two years ago my wife and I were walking with our son down the street and there was a woman sitting on the floor that said, “Please Help An Old Woman With Cancer.” When we were driving home I said to my wife how much I hate that feeling, and my wife agreed. At the same time my wife had a friend from Peru who was doing a fund raiser so that a priest she knew could provide an area for kids in need to sit down and eat. We connected with Father Antonio that way.
L+W- How does your foundation work with Father Antonio in Peru?
JG- My grandfather passed away about two years ago and when I went to Panama for the funeral my family asked me if I would help bring Del Prado to the United States. So we set up MAPA Imports, which allows us to receive Del Prado all-natural gourmet nectars and juices in California for resale in the U.S. I really loved what Paul Newman had set up with his foundation, and so we decided to donate a portion of our profits to help the kids in Peru that Father Antonio was helping take care of. They’ve now built a dining hall for the children, and they’re building a second floor to provide arts classes to the kids. We want to put a dorm in to have a formal sleeping area and build a school by contracting teachers to come back from Lima to teach there. There was a terrorist movement in Ayacucho in the ’80’s and ’90’s, the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), that alienated many citizens, so now there are mostly children and elderly people there. Father Antonio is the pillar for this community.
L+W- What are the long term goals for your The Children of Ayacucho Fund?
JG- Our focus now is helping the citizens in Ayacucho. Once we accomplish what we hope in Ayacucho, we can focus on another area that doesn’t receive much attention on a global level. We set up a portion of our proceeds to give to causes we believe in that will help in the long run. We believe firmly in helping children. The Del Prado business in Panama is not a part of this branch of the company that has this particular foundation set up, although they give to charitable causes as well. We are a separate entity, and rely on donations and a portion of our sales from our products here in California to move our mission forward.
L+W- What is the most moving moment you’ve had so far with your foundation?
JG- There was the catalyst, which was seeing the woman on the sidewalk with the sign- that was the moment we knew we needed to do something to make a difference in the world. But a really special moment was when the Resource Foundation decided to help us right around Christmas of ’09. We had been through countless interviews with countless other foundations, and none of them were working out in the way that was right for us. We had some wonderful help with people here who connected us with them, and they are the reason we were able to establish it. So that was incredibly moving.
L+W- Is there anything else you want people to know about the Del Prado foundation?
JG- I think the most important message we want to convey is that we put forth our own personal efforts to help causes here in the US, such as Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake, but helping to give the children of Peru a better life is our focused mission. A key component is to open people’s eyes to areas of the world that don’t have a watchful eye on them. I just learned that the children there have to walk three hours to go to school everyday. I believe clothing, food and school is every child’s God-given right. Helping them is part of what we consider our social responsibility.