Throughout life we not only answer the call to the hunger pangs in our stomachs, but also to the ones in our minds. When we continually feed our minds with new knowledge, we are more open to the possibilities that lay in front of us. This is why educational nourishment is very fundamental to the development of our young people and an investment to the future of our global family.

For three years running, Uniting Distant Stars (UDS) has been investing into the education of Liberia’s youth. Our Bright Stars program has provided full-year scholarships for primary and secondary students, tuition assistance for young adults in vocational technical intuitions, and school supplies for about 250 students at the Russ Wood Christian Academy in Congo Town Liberia.

2013 Christmas Party where the supplies are distributed.

In 2013, we increased our scholarship students from five to six. The tuition fees for all six were $1,720 along with $60 in UDS administration costs was sent on August 15. These fees not only cover the cost of going to school for one year, but also the student’s uniforms, shoes and starting supplies. One of our students is a senior in high school and this will require additional fees later in year for the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) national exam and graduation.

Also in 2013, we increased the number of 14-cubic-foot boxes from three to four to ship school supplies for our adopted school–Russ Wood. This was a very successful Bright Stars Campaign that has raised about $2,300 in cash and in-kind donations in matter of five weeks. Our sponsors have hailed from Oklahoma, Missouri, Wisconsin and Minnesota. We want to recognize Oklahoma as the super STARS of this campaign by giving a total of 1,752, which we need to also acknowledge Tracy Bishop (a donor and advocate) for reaching out to her women’s group in supporting Liberia’s Bright Stars.

On Saturday, August 31, we completed the initial packing of the four boxes. UDS Executive Director, Heather Cannon-Winkelman, spent the last week in August shopping for supplies with the donated money and ensured everything was weighed and inventoried (shipping company requirement) before the packing crew arrived. Within 30 minutes, our crew of three–Mary Rosendahl (board secretary), Heather, and Saah Kpakar (board treasurer)–were able to pack over 1,700 pounds of supplies in the four boxes. 

Before and after picture showing the 2013 supplies being packed in the 14-cubic-foot boxes

On Monday, September 9, all four boxes will be picked up by our shipping company I.B. Express (Liberian owned and operated) and soon will make their long voyage across the Atlantic. The cost to ship and clear each box is $235 for total of $940. The shipping time varies due to weather and changes in the sea, but we anticipate that these supplies will arrive in Liberia either late November or early December. 

2013 boxes are sealed and ready to ship.

In December, on the last of school before they take holiday break, we will provide a Christmas Party to distribute the supplies and provide a hot meal for all the students, who range in ages from 5 to 22 in grades K thru 6. This party was a huge success last year and we look forward to doing it again. 

On the behalf of our board, U.S. and Liberian volunteers, we extend our heartfelt Thank You for everyone who has contributed to the nourishment of the young minds in our Bright Stars program.