Please Vote & Help Us Win Up To $15,000

Please Vote & Help Us Win Up To $15,000

We have a chance to win up to $15,000 for Uniting Distant Stars and we’d like your help!

Old National Bank is launching their Choose Your Charity event on November 19! Everyone is invited to vote for their favorite local 501(c)3 nonprofit—once a day, every day until December 17—by visiting the Choose Your Charity website at Takes only seconds to complete. 

The top vote-getter from the 31 communities Old National serves will receive $15,000! And $5,000 will go to the top vote-getter in each of their other 30 communities!

These funds could really make a difference to our organization as we continue our mission. So please take a few minutes out of your day to vote for us at, and spread the word on social media and any other way you can think of!

Thank you for voting for Uniting Distant Stars!

You Are The Reason For This Thanksgiving Season!

You Are The Reason For This Thanksgiving Season!

We hope you are well! Happy Thanksgiving to all our U.S. supporters! 

As we coming together from different parts of the world, we wanted to extend our Heartfelt Thanks for your generous support! There are never enough words to express our gratitude for all that you do. Your dedication towards Liberian Youth in learning valuable trade skills is so worthy of praise. Your commitment to see young men and women through graduation gives them the hope to succeed.

Without a doubt, you are their Classroom Hero and you make their one-year journey possible because you believe in their abilities. Thank you for including Uniting Distant Stars in your charitable giving! 

Your Event Decoration Students showing the flowers they made.
You Raised $2,270 for Give to the Max Day!

You Raised $2,270 for Give to the Max Day!

How are you today? We hope you are feeling fabulous! Why? You raised $2,270 for the Give to the Max Day (includes $600 match). We raised $1,185 last year, so you nearly doubled your generous giving. The matching gift was unlocked by 3:34 PM CST on November 19th by the fifth donor. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!

Your support continues to help Liberian Youth learn valuable trade skills. In the video below, I explain how these skills are tangible because it’s something they keep after they graduate. Your students use these skills to provide for themselves and their families. Talk about a decent return on investment. Thank you!

Co-Founder & Executive Director, Heather Cannon, sharing why she gives to Uniting Distant Stars.

Your Chance is Now to Give to the Max

Your Chance is Now to Give to the Max

The Year-End Giving Season has started. Please take advantage of the $600 Matching Grant to double your impact today by donating at least $10 (click here). This year’s campaign, “Give to Train Liberian Youth for Trade Careers” shows how your generous gift allows our graduates to be employed or self-employed like Viola Blaine.

Viola Blaine is one of 212 students who have graduated from Uniting Distant Stars Vocational Training Center (UDSVTC) since 2017 from nine trades. Our courses include Auto Mechanics, Catering, Computers, Cosmetology, Electrician, Event Planning, Hotel Management, Plumbing, and Tailoring. The twelve-month programs are mostly practical learning. This means that Viola was able to start putting her skills to work and earning income immediately. 

Why Students Enroll at Uniting Distant Stars

Many students come to UDSVTC because they can start on the path of becoming self-sufficient. Viola was 40 years old and a mother of 3 when she received her diploma in cosmetology. Although she had had some experience working in a hair salon, she was grateful to find a vocational school where she could learn more, improve her skills, and become certified. 

Shortly after graduation, Viola got a job working in a salon. However, the pandemic shut down most businesses and she lost her job. However, she continues to earn income by doing hair at her home. Although times are difficult, she has not lost hope of the dream as she articulated when she graduated, “This diploma will provide a good opportunity for me to do my own business. UDSVTC is one of the best schools you can go to and get good vocational skills. Thanks to all for the knowledge I received.”

How Your Gift Makes a Difference

Viola is praying, like others around the globe, that this crisis ends soon so that we can all move on with our dreams. Hers is to someday become a successful business owner. Your donation will support UDSVTC in helping students help themselves and their families through entrepreneurship, the engine of economic growth and development. Together we can invest in the future of the people and youth of Liberia.

Meet Vocational Training Instructors

Meet Vocational Training Instructors

On October 31, Uniting Distant Stars Vocational Training Center held a general meeting. These meetings bring students and staff together to provide information and solicit feedback. Some shared how this is the first school they have attended in Liberia that “has so much respect for students”. Also, some commented on how this “is the only school that gets the students’ views before making any administrative decisions”. As you may recall in our last newsletter, we shared a video on how we are a youth-driven organization and the students’ feedback confirm this notion.

Additionally, the instructors talked about how much they appreciate the benefit of learning another trade. As a small institution, we pay a small monthly stipend so we added an incentive to learn a trade for free. Many of our instructors take advantage of this opportunity. 

Introducing Uniting Distant Stars Instructors

Now we like to introduce you to our instructors and what other roles they play at Uniting Distant Stars. From the photo below we will start from the top photo and go left to right then down to the bottom two photos left to right as follows:

  1. Michael Gaye, Event Decoration Co-Instructor (started in 2019). The class enrollment grew this year, so he has a co-instructor and he is learning from him. 
  2. Frank Tugbeh, Catering Instructor (started in 2018). He has a catering business on the side and continues to share his knowledge with the students. 
  3. Emmanuel Duwah, Cosmetology Instructor (started in 2019). He is active in his career as a hairstylist. 
  4. Myrtle Stoe, Hotel Management Teachers Assistant (started in 2019). She graduated from this course in 2019 and started assisting the instructor, Amed Saah Blama (not pictured). She also serves as the registrar and does other administrative duties. This year she enrolled in event decoration. 
  5. Nelson S. Borlay, Academy Principal and Vocational Training Administration (started in 2018). He is enrolled in catering. 
  6. Kelvin Fomba, Auto Mechanics & Computer Instructors. He wears many hats including Co-Founder & Country Director and will help anywhere that is needed.
  7. Boakai Dillion, Electrician Instructor (started in 2018). He is a 2017/2018 graduate and took over for the ailing instructor in 2018. Boakai is started helping with administrative duties last year and wants to continue to grow with the organization. 
  8. Daniel Williams, Event Decoration Co-Instructor (started 2020). He comes with extensive experience in event decorating, thus the reason why Michael wants to learn from him. He is also enrolled as an electrician student.
  9. Askia D. Nyandibo, Plumbing Instructor (started in 2019). He currently works as a plumber.
  10. Jerry Paypay, Tailoring Instructor (started in 2018). He makes time from his busy tailoring business to teach your students how to make and repair clothes and other items. 
Liberia Youth Drive Their Success

Liberia Youth Drive Their Success

What makes Uniting Distant Stars unique to other vocational training programs? We take a bottom-up approach as follows:

  1. We listen to your students’ suggestions and implemented them from course options to learning labs.
  2. At the start of a new term, your students decide which course or course(s) they want to take.
  3. Your students plan the schedule with the instructor at the start of each one-year term.
  4. Within their learning labs, your students prefer to learn collaboratively with their peers.
  5. Your students enjoy 85% hands-on learning when practicing their skills.
  6. In preparing for graduation, your students organize their commencement ceremony.

Most importantly, your students drive their success because they have an active role. Finally, your role as a Classroom Hero makes this possible.

Video showing Uniting Distant Stars Bottom-up Approach