Philippine Self-Help Foundation


PSHF founder, Richard Foster was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1952.  After a couple of years of primary school in Brussels, he went to boarding school in England at the age of seven. He attended Ladycross Prep School, 1960 to 1965 and Harrow School, 1966 to 1970.

After leaving Harrow, he spent some time back in Brussels before beginning a four year sandwich degree course at Thames Polytechnic in International Marketing, 1971 to 1974. In his third year, as part of his course, he returned to Belgium to work as a business trainee.

Despite having a business-related degree in hand, Richard opted not to enter the corporate world. Instead, he loaded up his Volkswagen Variant and drove down to Grenoble, in the French Alps, with a dream - to open a squash club, no less. Sport was a passion for Richard; he had played in the school's first tennis pair at Harrow, represented the school in its own brand of the beautiful game 'Harrow football' and won the Thames Polytechnic squash championship.

His dream was now to earn a living in the world of sports. His idea of opening a club in Grenoble, however, never did materialise. Out of the blue, sometime in 1976, a call came through from a certain Jean-Pierre Camuset, inviting him up to Paris for a meeting. It transpired that squash club La Défense was seeking a coaching professional. He left Grenoble, where he had been teaching English, and moved to Paris. The club, still under construction, was situated in La Défense, the new business centre for Paris.

In 1978, Richard's somewhat carefree life in Paris came to an abrupt end. He recalls receiving the visit of Stan Havrlik, a director of the Castle Club in the suburbs of Brussels. Over dinner in a fine Parisian restaurant, Richard learned that the sports club was seeking a General Manager and "would he consider taking up the position?". Very soon afterwards Richard was back living in Belgium and finally embarking on his sports management career.

Richard spent six years running the Castle Club and, for a while, the Fort Jaco sports club as well. During his tenure, he continued his squash playing career and was a member of the Belgian national team in three successive European Team Championships. On the surface, all was well: he was achieving success on the courts and managing one of the premier sports clubs in the country. On a personal level however, things were not what they seemed; Richard was struggling with low self esteem and a lack of inner peace and joy. He sought meaning in astrology and embarked on a psychoanalysis that was to last close to two years.

He ended his analysis inconclusively and took up his mother's suggestion of meeting up with the vicar of Holy Trinity church in Brussels for a talk. Soon after, he was encouraged by the Rev. John Lewis to attend a worship service and, little by little, the faith in God which Richard had held as a child was rekindled.

One Tuesday in early May, 1984, Richard took the opportunity of a lunch meeting with the Castle Club chairman to announce his resignation. The job had been a realisation of a dream; it had provided both status and success as well as a formative management experience but it was time to move on and discover what else was out there.

On September 22nd, 1984, Richard boarded a Gulf Air flight out of Heathrow airport, bound for Colombo, Sri Lanka. This was the first port of call in a round-the-world journey. Why did he abandon a promising career in sports management? What factors lay behind his staying in Japan and never completing the journey? What was it that propelled him into what he came to see as his life's purpose?


Richard Foster on a recent visit to Bohol island's Chocolate Hills.