2016 has been a phenomenal year for Uniting Distant Stars. Our learning center has become the “hub” for children and youth seeking educational assistance and vocational training. Since introducing the computer lab in March, word got out, and youth are coming to our site from several different areas throughout Monrovia to receive this training. Without a doubt, we have outgrown our current site with serving over 100 students.
|Youth attending introduction computer class in UDS Library.|
A few months ago, our co-founder and country director, Kelvin Fomba, found a building less than a five-minute walk from our current location. The property had not been occupied for two years, the building was deteriorating, and its grounds had become the community trash dump. After several weeks of negotiations, the landlord agreed to a 5-year lease for $7,500 and required half down to secure it. After sharing this opportunity with one of our long-time donors in Minnesota, they generously donated $3,750 on May 22. Two weeks later we received the lease agreement and keys to the building. The remaining half of the lease must be paid after the renovations are complete.
This is our next challenge.
The building had stood empty for two years. Along with a leaking roof, parts of the interior were heavily damaged by water. The rainy season started about April/May and the roof became the number one priority. The question was how?
However, we have been blessed to receive a $1,000 donation from a sustaining supporter in Liberia. This generous gift covered the cost to replace half the roof. Our team worked overtime on Friday, July 8, and Saturday, July 9, installing new sheets of zinc metal on half the roof. Another $1,000 will complete this job to prevent any further damage from the heavy rains, and we are hoping to reach this fundraising goal soon.
|Roof before the replacement. |
|Kelvin Fomba on the roof during its replacement. |
|The brand new, shiny roof. |
Our youth played another important role in the development of our new site. About 50 kids came out on Saturday, July 9 and worked 8 hours removing the trash from all sides of the building. These boys and girls completed 75% of the trash removal during this one day. Our youth want this center to open as soon as possible that they pray each day for this to happen. They wanted to show you, as our supporter, what this means to them by investing some sweat equity with cleaning the place.
|Our youth outside the fence cleaning up the garbage.|
|Our girls worked just as hard as the boys shoveling up trash.|
|Youth cleaning trash between the fence and building.|
|Empty rice bags were used to place the garbage as it was scoped up by shovel.|
|Girls and boy working together to clean their future learning center.|
|Two young ladies hauling a bag of garbage. |
As you can see from this last photo, this building was a school and perfect place for our new learning center. Our goal is open this year and we need $25,000 to cover the remaining costs as follows:
- Complete all renovations for the roof, three bathrooms, ceiling tile and doors, and painting the interior and exterior that includes materials and labor.
- Buy equipment such as desks, chairs, benches, storage cabinet, and additional computers, sewing machines and library books. Also basic office supplies.
- Install the electricity and interest, and pay for the first-year of service.
- Pay stipends for computer and sewing trainers, study class teachers, security guards, receptionist/secretary, and janitor. These stipends for 11 people are below market value, but a starting point to employ Liberians.
We are reaching out to individuals and organizations interested in partnering or sponsoring this initiative. If you know anyone that could help, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
. We are available to meet in person, or through Skype or Google Hangout.
Your generous support allowed Uniting Distant Stars to reach new heights in providing educational resources and vocational training to Liberia’s children and youth. Thank you for being our Rock Star!!!