Co-Founder's Giving Story – #GivingTuesday

My worldview changed when I visited Liberia for the first time in 1998. This small West African Country was praying for peace after ensuring a devastating civil war for nine years. Much of the infrastructure was damaged and destroyed but the spirits of the people remained hopeful.

While we visited different areas in Monrovia (Liberia’s Capital), the people greeted us with warm welcomes and gracious hospitality. The children, on the other hand, showed signs of malnutrition but they displayed their resilience by laughing and playing. This challenged my beliefs of impoverished children that I learned from watching countless commercials of Sally Struthers crying as the spokesperson of the Christian Children’s Fund. 

Children’s Desire to Learn

During this trip, I noticed the desire and hunger of children wanting to go to school when visiting a tuition-free school. It was run by six university students with limited resources. In other words, there were no textbooks, school supplies or desks. Instead, all you saw was bamboo slats on cement blocks and makeshift chalkboard in a one-room building. 

We returned the next day with food for a cookout and brought relief supplies that we carried from Minnesota. In return, the children gave a program of songs and skits. Then a nine-year-old boy stood up and recited the Emancipation Proclamation. He blew our minds and brought us to tears because none of us could accomplish what he did.

The boy who recited the Emancipation Proclamation in 1998

Passion to Service Children & Youth

During the next 21 years, I have dedicated my life, money, resources, and time to helping children and youth in Liberia by:

  • donating funds and materials to support Liberian children’s education and wellbeing since 1998. 
  • volunteering my time while living in Liberia for two separate years (between 2007 and 2010) to support youth-focused local NGOs (non-government organizations).
  • sponsoring children and young adults with annual scholarships for primary/secondary schools or receive vocational training in 2011.
  • starting annual school supply drives in 2011 to support a primary school in Congo Town.

Starting a New Chapter

My giving story took on a new chapter when I and Kelvin Fomba (Liberian National) co-founded Uniting Distant Stars as an official non-profit in 2013. UDS focuses on educational programs for children and youth. I continue to donate needed funds, sponsor 13 children with academic scholarships. And, I volunteer countless hours with communication, fundraising, and other support to further our mission in supporting young Liberians. 

Heather presenting at UDS “Creative & Innovative Thinking Youth Leadership Workshop ” in Liberia in 2013.

I hope you join me this Giving Tuesday on December 3 by making a donation to our Classroom Hero Giving Day. Your gift not only helps a child or young adult learn but also builds their confidence.

Heather (standing in the back) with children in 2013 from the first school UDS supported with school supply drives and scholarships.

Thank you for your continued support!

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