We Love Visitors, Especially When They Return

We Love Visitors, Especially When They Return

As you know, we love visitors, especially those who come back. Martina Gargard first visited our center in 2018 with her friend and the longtime UDS supporter of Dr. Jasoe Sharpe. At that time, she interviewed Kelvin Fomba for an article she wanted to publish on her site LiberiaInfo. She interviewed me during the pandemic and published it in 2021. 

During her return visit on May 8, 2024, she found a lot of changes including our solar providing electricity. Martina first met the academic students taking their fifth-period tests, and sixth and ninth-graders studying for their national exams. Then she interacted with the catering students and answered their questions. She complimented Kelvin for what he and his team accomplished since her last visit in 2018. 

Martina hopes to work with us in developing a children’s clothing line which Myrtle provided some suggestions. Also, she wants our junior high students to participate in the essay contest she started with Grand Bassa County schools. Thank you again, Martina, for your return visit!

Uniting Distant Stars Update 5/1/24 on programs and recent Virtual Tea Time

Uniting Distant Stars Update 5/1/24 on programs and recent Virtual Tea Time

Welcome to May, Everyone! Heather Cannon, Co-Founder and Executive Director will give a 16-minute update on our programs, recent Virtual Tea Time, and much more.

Summary of Updates:

  • 00:21 Discussed progress of Vocational Training Students.
  • 02:13 Recapped the April 27 Virtual Tea Time. Learn more.
  • 06:25 Highlighted the Academic Quizzing Team. Read more.
  • 06:47 Explained more about the Academic program.
  • 09:42 Wished all May-Born people a Happy Birthday and shared how Kelvin Fomba raised almost $1,145 of his $1,200 goal. Read more.
  • 12:46 Talked about UDS Alumni and Student Facebook Group. The link to join is https://www.facebook.com/groups/UDSLIB
  • 14:11. The next Virtual Tea Time is tentatively on July 27. Email [email protected]

The book cited in the video: “The Price of Humanity: How Philanthropy Went Wrong and How to Fix It” by Amy Schiller

Thank you for all your support!

04/27/2024 Virtual Tea Time Recap

04/27/2024 Virtual Tea Time Recap

The Virtual Team Time is our favorite event because it connects you with the young people you are helping. Since starting these in July 2022, the participants can ask the students any questions, and the youth can quiz the guests. No questions were vetted before this event, allowing a fundamental understanding of the day-to-day struggles faced by Liberian youth.

Before each event, our team in Liberia find interested students and staff who like to interact with our guests for one-hour. We look for people who live near campus or have the means to transport themselves. The event hosts are the following:

1) Heather Cannon, Co-Founder & Executive Director of USA,

2) Kelvin Fomba, Co-Founder & Director of Liberia.


Everyone was asked to share their name and what brings them joy.

  1. Donna Cannon enjoys springtime.
  2. Paul Ostrow is a UDS board member (treasurer), and his joy is baseball, with the Minnesota Twins winning five straight games.
  3. Josh Westergren is a UDS volunteer and enjoys being outdoors in nature.
  4. Martina Gargard loves salsa dancing.
  5. Heather Cannon, love spring and the renewal of life.
  6. Marthaline Yarpah, 8th grade and top quizzer, loves learning.
  7. Junior S. Peabody, 7th grade and quizzing captain, finds joy in education.
  8. Touna Mark Yohn is an Electrician student who enjoys practicing his skills in the field.
  9. Melvina Saye is a Catering student who loves God and is developing her skills.
  10. Tony M. Zowah is a quizzing teacher and enjoys teaching children.
  11. Kelvin Fomba’s joy is helping children and youth learn.

Guest Questions

  1. Paul wanted to know more about the quizzing team, and Martina also expressed an interest in this. Tony explained that they quiz on science, math, English, and history. The team competes with other schools and has won championships for three consecutive years. Kelvin added that the quizzing team helps students learn faster and build confidence because they have to speak in front of others.
  2. Donna asked how long their school year was, which was broken into vocational and academic. 1) Vocational is one year, and they meet three days a week for three to four hours of class time. The first two months are theoretical and move to practical for the next ten months. 2) The academic school year starts in September and ends in June or July.
  3. Josh was curious about the practical field training. Kelvin gave two examples: catering and electricians. The caterers bring in the ingredients and make the food at school. Then, they sell their food on campus and get their money back. The electricians do practicals on campus, such as installing a plyboard. However, the instructor tries to get a contract to do installation at a home or buildings like churches.
  4. Paul asked where they lived and how they got to work. Three live in Gaye Town and usually take a motorbike to school. The other two live near the campus and walk to school.
  5. Martina asked if UDS could partner with companies so that students could get practical experience. Kelvin explained that some connections will support our students, and many won’t. For example, in 2019, Kailando Hotel interned four to five of our students. Before their graduation, they were employed, and one became the manager.

Student Questions

  • Touna wanted to know how to support the electrician students in helping modernize their lab. Heather explains that vocational training is expensive because of the need for materials and tools. Also, do we do our best to keep up with the changes for each trade career we offer?
  • Martina inquired about other institutions and government buildings for UDS to utilize for their practicals. Kelvin explained that we are better than most of the government institutions. He explained how they don’t share their space with private schools and have misused their materials such as selling them.
  • Melvina wanted to know who we were. They dropped during our introductions, and so everyone reintroduced themselves.
  • Marthaline asked when Heather would come back to Liberia.
  • Tony asked for support for the quizzing team, such as scholarships, transportation, and materials to help them prepare for competitions. Paul asked Kelvin for a list of materials needed.
Support Kelvin Fomba’s Birthday Fundraiser

Support Kelvin Fomba’s Birthday Fundraiser

For the second consecutive year, Kelvin wanted to hold a birthday fundraiser. His birthday was April 12, and he wants to raise $1,200 to help 12 students. If you listened to the video update, Kelvin shared (start at 4:24) why he feels birthday fundraisers are the best way to celebrate. Kelvin raised $62 so far. If you want to support his cause, please donate via Facebook, Cash App $UDStars, Venmo @UDStars, or website. Thank you! 

What Makes a Competitive Quizzing & Spelling Bee Teams

What Makes a Competitive Quizzing & Spelling Bee Teams

When we started our UDS Academy in 2018, we wanted to provide quality education to children and youth unable to afford private schools. Moving to 2021, our students proved their abilities by winning quizzing and spelling bee contests. They outcompete older students older from other schools.

How did UDS become so competitive? Tony Zowah, one of our academic teachers, makes this possible. He coaches the students and prepares them for the annual contests and championships. They have been winning each year.

One of the spelling bee team members, Lawrence Freeman, shared how the teams were doing on March 23rd and what was next.

We won our game. The UDS quizzers won with 260 points while the opponents were having negative 5. The spelling bee team won with 95 points while the opponents was having 20 points. All thanks to bro, Tony Zowah for coaching us the right way.

We will be playing on April 3, in the SAGO League. Then April 4, at the NYFAC League, and April 5, in the third league at Smart Kids Resource Center.

Lawrence Freeman, Uniting Distant Stars Academy Student

The 2023/2024 teams include the following:

  • Spelling Bee Team
    • Darling-girl Gbo
    • Faith Sayway
    • Lawrence Freeman
    • Jackqueline Sayway
    • Anna Fayiah
  • Quizzing Team
    • Junior Peabody
    • Marthalyne Clinton
    • Marcus Weetor
    • Angel Wilson
    • Jackqueline Gbowre
    • Tarnue Jallah
    • Wisdom Jallah

They won two of the three district tournaments that Lawrence mentioned above. The team will go to the semi-finals on April 18. We will keep you posted.