If you are not familiar with Buchanan, it is about 2 hours down the coast of Liberia from Monrovia, towards their bordering country Cote d’Ivoire. Buchanan is the third largest city in Liberia, with a population of approximately 97,000 fewer people than the Monrovian capital. (Government of The Republic of Liberia’s 2008 National Population and Housing Census). The city is located right on the coast of the Waterhouse Bay, a part of the Atlantic Ocean, which houses a large fishing industry. Buchanan is also home to The Liberia Opportunities Industrialization Center, or, “LOIC.” This center was founded in 1977 and has many shared values with Uniting Distant Stars. As of 2013, they had 177 young people attending training courses in electricity, tailoring, carpentry and more. Both organizations aim to target post-war recovery and to educate and train their students for high-demand jobs in Liberia.
With everyone ready to go on the bus to LOIC, UDS students and staff readied themselves for a trip just over two hours long. No one was quite ready for the bus to break down on the drive and turn this into a five-hour trek. This bumpy start resulted in higher energy for the kickball and football games that the students played when they got into town. The men’s football jerseys were hand printed by UDS’ very own, Godfrey Solomon, who is a volunteer administrator.
After the games, everyone attended a short program for the LOIC student leader elections and feasted on food provided by our support staff. Following the elections, both our students and teachers had an opportunity to network with their peers. Our Liberian Co-Founder and Executive Director received a great deal of feedback from our students and teachers on the quality of education and support received by UDS. This gave them an opportunity to compare the two institutions and learn from each other.