Two of the poorest countries in the world are getting serious help from an Oberlin High School alumnus.
Ken Wong, director and founder of the non-profit organization Face-To-Face, works with people in Malawi and Cambodia adopt healthier lifestyles.
“We try to get the community to find the problem and solve it themselves,” he said.
A 1979 OHS graduate, Wong was inducted in 2011 into Oberlin Makes a Difference, the high school hall of fame.
Today his organization believes people across the world can overcome extreme poverty, HIV, and other diseases, and orphaned children can grow up to be compassionate leaders.
He visited Oberlin this month to talk with residents about what his group has accomplished and what he plans for the coming years.
The way Oberlin neighbors band together during hard times inspired Wong to found Face-To-Face in 2003. “It’s about strengthening the community,” Wong said.
His goal is to give people in southern Africa and Southeast Asia the confidence to conquer their challenges. “People rely on themselves in poor communities,” he said. “They grow their own food to survive.”
For the first time, thousands of Malawians are growing enough food to feed their families. Tthey’re achieving this through advanced organic farming, Face-To-Face says.
In Cambodia, the poorest adults and children develop their skills and confidence at Face-To-Face community centers.
Now the organization is launching a campaign to raise $158,000 to allow 22,500 Malawians grow more food, fight HIV, malaria, and tuburculosis, have cash to send their children to school, and work together to develop effective local leadership.
“With the support of hundreds of tribal chiefs, we’ve proven that our strategy works and now is the time to ensure that thousands of others in need can benefit in 2016,” stated a letter from Face-To-Face.
Wong said support in Oberlin can help as many as 20,000 people overseas.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @ValUrbanik on Twitter.
Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune
Ken Wong stands with former Oberlin High School classmates Erik Andrews and Rick Flood during a visit to town this month to talk about the progress the Face-To-Face organization.