“Empowerment is critical,” explained Tyson Ray, co-founder of Children’s World Impact (CWI), a non-profit that seeks to break the cycle of poverty for widows and orphans around the world. “Sometimes we forget that we don’t need to do everything ourselves. If we inject funding into local villages in a smart way, it not only creates jobs, but also gives communities a greater sense of ownership.”
CWI has focused on care and community development, mostly in Haiti and Ghana, since its founding in 2006. In Haiti, CWI has served more than 3,000 patients through medical missions, and built an elementary school and orphanage. In Ghana, investments in a well, bakery, and shea butter processing plant in the village of Ullo enabled more than 1,400 widows and orphans to create sustainable income by selling water, bread, and shea butter. Stateside, CWI hosts food packaging events where volunteers have packed over 1 million meals for hungry people around the world.
When it comes to CWI, Tyson wears many hats—serving as board member, fundraiser, project manager, trip leader, general contractor, food packer, and more. The organization prides itself on being self-funded, where its Board of Directors, including Tyson and his wife, Jenny, cover 100% of CWI’s operating expenses. All of the money raised goes directly to the projects that help those in need, which helps CWI make a greater impact, and faster.
Tyson won the Invest in Others Global Community Impact Award in 2014, which secured a donation of $20,000 for CWI. The funding from Invest in Others allowed CWI to continue its impact in three key areas.
CWI has expanded its work in Haiti by building housing for families in need. One such family was particularly special to CWI. Reby, a teenager that served as an interpreter on medical missions, lived with his parents and four siblings in a one-room home with only one bed. CWI sprang into action when it learned of this family’s housing conditions, building Reby’s family a home with a functional bathroom, outdoor kitchen, and beds for every family member.
In Ghana, once the components of economic infrastructure were in place, CWI was able to turn its focus to the Ullo children, building a school to educate over 100 preschoolers and kindergarteners.
The donation from Invest in Others also enabled CWI to double the number of meals it packaged at its annual food packaging event in 2014. Nearly 900 volunteers in southern Wisconsin packaged over 200,000 meals. While 50,000 of those meals went to food pantries in Wisconsin, 150,000 were sent to Africa to aid people fighting the Ebola crisis.
Although CWI’s areas of impact are diverse, there is a common thread that runs through all the lives the organization has touched—when the basic needs of individuals and families are met, their economic well being-improves, and they are able to accomplish and aspire to more than they ever dreamed of.