What are you willing to sacrifice for education? For Wil Eyi’s mother, the answer was everything. Back in the early 90s, Wil’s mother received a scholarship to become a software engineer. “We were really lucky,” Wil said, “they didn’t give many scholarships, and rarely to women.” During Wil’s childhood, his mother worked relentlessly to provide her children with better opportunities. Even still, growing up there was a lot Wil didn’t have; he watched his family go into debt to afford things as simple as school supplies.
His mother’s fight didn’t end even when Wil was 15; she took on even more debt to send him to America for a single semester at a small community college. But the story doesn’t end there. Wil went on to receive his bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University and a master’s from Harvard. He then started a business involving technology and construction. To put it simply, he’s always thinking about people building structures––the very thing that Coafrica does.
Wil’s unique insights provide great strength to Coafrica’s organization because of his history; he understands the unique cultural issues that might be otherwise overlooked.
For the past year, Wil and his brilliant wife, Laura, have helped Coafrica transform into a real organization. Laura, who has degrees in nonprofit management and international development, has helped with many communication aspects, including marketing and website design. Alternatively, Wil focuses on strategy and how to think through issues on the ground. Both Laura and Wil remain heavily involved with the organization, serving as members of Coafrica’s board.
Coafrica isn’t clearing the path to create a temporary solution; it’s empowering communities to be the change. And that’s what Wil and Laura Eyi love about it. Unlike many organizations that attempt to solve issues by providing nations with easy solutions, Coafrica creates sustainable solutions that last. Instead of creating all new schools, Coafrica examines each project site – sometimes renovating pre-existing structures. This expansion of schools helps millions of children that are out of school, often just because of the lack of classroom capacity. “It doesn’t just involve the community,” Laura beautifully said, “it makes their vision bigger.”
What if Wil’s mother hadn’t been lucky enough to receive that scholarship? How different might Wil and Laura’s lives have been? Coafrica takes luck out of the picture. By empowering nations to support and strengthen themselves, they can continue to grow, giving every child a shot at the education they deserve.