civil wars have stripped many young people in developing nations of their
childhood and sometimes their humanity. 
Conditioned by what they witnessed or by direct involvement as
conscripted child soldiers, many still resort to violence as the preferred means
of resolving conflict and solving problems. 
During peacetime, they are easily persuaded to participate in riots and public
protests over the lack of jobs or food or education.  A prime example is Liberia,
a tiny West African nation that sustained total destruction of its
infrastructure while civil war raged from 1989 to 2003.  The most devastating losses however were the
hopes and dreams of its youth.  Today some
young Liberians are graduating from college with little chance of finding
conventional employment.  The national rate
of underemployment/unemployment hovers around 85%.   Many pessimistically believe that their true
destiny is to be a vendor in the already saturated open-air markets.   Such a narrow view can only be broadened by
introducing creative thinking
crowdfunding project is a revolutionary, invitation-only international youth
leadership workshop, to be held on September 13 and
14, 2013 in ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Monrovia, Liberia. It will:
  • Engage and inspire young Liberians to develop their own
    grassroots innovative projects that address problems they would like to
  • Provide a collaborative and supportive space where our
    young participants can re-light their flame of boundless imagination and
    creative spirit that was snuffed out by war and suppressive institutions.
  • Guide our young participants to channel their energy
    into creative projects that can effect positive change in their lives and
    the people around them.
  • Assist Liberia’s future leaders, innovators, and educators
    to re-discover their potential and how they can make a difference.

 ECC Youth Group giving a message of hope for their peers in Liberia
workshop will begin with stories of real-life role models—young African boys
and girls who broke free of the chains of hopelessness and almost miraculously created
innovative projects with little or no
resources. These amazing youth include:
  • William Kawkwamba of Malawi, whose
    story is told in his book “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.” In 2001, when only 14
    years old, he built his first windmill to generate electricity for his house, using his inborn talent, an English-language text
    book, and items from a local scrap yard. 
    He did this despite a deadly famine that forced him to drop out of
    school. His second, more powerful windmill was built to help irrigate his
    family’s maize crops.
  • Duro-AinaAdebola, Akindele Abiola and Faleke Oluwatoyin, and Bello Eniola, four teenage
    girls from Nigeria who developed a process using human urine—an abundant and
    renewable resource—to power a generator with an initial investment of $64. They
    also found a way to eliminate the smell of “pee” to alleviate the concerns of
    working with a form of human waste.
  • KelvinDoe of Sierra Leone, who pulled electronic parts from trash dumps to make his
    own battery and generator.  He later created
    his own radio station and took the name “DJ Focus” due to his belief that focus
    is necessary to develop projects. He was invited to MIT as one of the youngest
    visiting inventors after his story was shared on YouTube.
1: Our participants will analyze and discuss each of these inspirational
stories, reviewing the resources used and how projects were implemented. They will also
hear from Liberian social innovators like Alfred Sirleaf, who have successfully launched grassroots
initiatives. After exposure to these examples of
innovation, they will be encouraged to note down in sketches or words what resources
they can access for developing their own projects and addressing the problems
they hope to solve.
2: UDS will provide an open lab environment where our budding inventors can
incubate their ideas, to be birthed into viable projects. They will be
encouraged to work independently and in groups to conduct experiments using the
resources they gathered to test their ideas. Additionally, they will hear about
opportunities to develop and grow their project from our Liberian partners:
  • Accountability Lab will introduce
    their Accountapreneurship Funds which provides small grants to “harness the
    creativity of citizens to solve problems in their own communities.”
  • The Business Start-up Center at the
    University of Liberia’s main campus, will share their services that “stimulate and
    develop young and ambitious entrepreneurs through Training, business plan
    competitions and facilitates access to finance as a way of promoting SME development
    and growth in Liberia.”
UDS will award seed money for the top two collaborative project ideas developed
by our young visionaries, who are ready to address the social or economic
problems within their communities. The best two projects will be determined by
the votes of all participants.
is a $2,500 project that will provide (click here to see concept proposal):
  • Food and transportation for all participants 
  • A one-night stay for the 8 attendees from the rural
  • Workshop materials
  • Two $200 seed grants
  • Other logistical costs
pledge in supporting this project will aid and encourage our emerging youth
leaders to explore, develop and implement their creative and innovative ideas
that will help heal and rebuild their nation. No amount is too small to be part
of the journey that these young people will take in
reclaiming the gift they were born with and to give them the chance to become
contributing members of their communities and the world.
Listen to what Josh Tabla of the ECC Youth Group has to say about supporting this workshop.
value your involvement in this project and want to appreciate your pledge as
  • Pledge $5 or more: the Liberian
    youth will be forever gratefu

  • Pledge $20 or more:
The Liberian youth will joyfully sing your name out loud;
Your name will be listed on the Uniting Distant Stars sponsorship page for this
workshop as a supporter.
  • Pledge $50 or more:
The youth of Liberia will repeatedly
chant your name while dancing in jubilation
Your name will be listed on the
Uniting Distant Stars sponsorship page for this workshop as a supporter and
included on the 2014 annual report.
  • Pledge $100 of more:
The Liberian youth will consider you
as their global auntie and uncle
Your name will be listed on the
Uniting Distant Stars sponsorship page for this workshop, included on the 2014 annual
report, and added to the “banner of hope” that will be displayed during
this two-day workshop.
Please pledge by check or PayPal by
following the instructions below.
Checks: Make out the checks to ECC
and put UDS Workshop on the memo Line and send to
Distant Stars
Heather Cannon-Winkelman
Lawndale LN N
MN 55466
*PayPal: Go to
and scroll down to Contact Us box on the left hand side. Select Uniting Distant
in the Donation Category dropdown menu and then click the PayPal button
(see image below).

charges a 2.2% plus $0.30 per transaction fee that will be deducted from your
 Your generous pledge is tax
deductible through our fiscal sponsor Ebenezer Community Church in Brooklyn Park,