One of the most rewarding aspects of our work is receiving direct feedback from a student. On January 10, 2021, I (Heather Cannon) chatted with Kadiatu M. Swarray on Messenger, and then she called me to share more about her experience at our Vocational Training Center. She started her Cosmetology training in September 2020 and wanted to share her experience below in how you transformed her life.
Uniting Distant Stars (UDS) is a vocational training center that makes you focused and serious. You can’t make it if you are a lazy student. I come to school three times a week. Also, I am a graduate (November 25, 2020) of the African Methodist Episcopal University with a Bachelor of Public Administration (BPA). Since graduation, I have never earned any money on my own. But by being at UDS for 4 months this gone December, I now have earned more than $50 to $60 USD.
Kadiatu’s reply to my question about what she likes about Uniting Distant Stars.
So, UDS is a self-employment area but it can only happen if you are determined. I never in one day knew how to braid hair. But now with the help of UDS, I am learning little by little. My instructor Emmanuel said, “you are your own internship”. He explained that if we find our own clients we can apply our skills as part of our training. He teaches something new every class time, so you want to show up and learn.
Kadiatu’s conversion with me on the phone.
How did you find UDS? “My grandma owns a cook shop and would come to sell food to students at the center. From what she saw, she kept telling me to go to this school and learn computers. I said to my grandma not now because I can focus only on one thing at a time. I can go after graduating from college. So, when I completed my degree last year I enrolled in the Cosmetology Course.”
Kadiatu responding to my follow-up question.
Without a doubt, your investment in students like, Kadiatu, provides the means for self-sufficiency and leadership. In December, she became the student president of her 2020/2021 class and also for her course. Thank you for being her Classroom Hero!
Happy New Year! We hope you enjoyed your holidays and celebrated surviving a challenging year. What do you hope for in 2021 besides some sense of normalcy?
Our hope for 2021 is to transform more of our training departments into social businesses to provide additional revenue and create jobs for our graduates. As we continue to train and graduate students, more young people are led to our center to enroll. Thus the demand is high for vocational training because Liberian Youth sees it as the means for self-sufficiency.
In order to make this possible, we need to find interested partners and sponsors to help with the planning and raising the capital to buy the needed materials to make a viable business. If you know anyone interested in such a quest, please have them contact us at [email protected]. We appreciate any leads!
September 22, started a new term for a new group of students. In fact, many of your new students asked to start their practicals during the first week. For instance, the Event Decoration Students started making bangles on the second class day and sold them to other students. Just like that, they are learning a skill while earning some money.
Additionally, your Cosmetology Students began practicing plaiting hair at the Uniting Distant Stars Salon. In the near future, they will be working with actual people to advance their application of this valuable skill. Your students waste no time when it comes to learning a trade career.
Liberia started re-opening schools for students in June. The seniors first came back in June and completed in August. Then the government implemented a staggered system for the rest of the students. For instance, different grade levels attend different time frames to promote social distancing.
To summarize, the Infographic below provides the timeline for the remainder of this year. It shows how each group will complete the 2019/2020 academic year. Also, it gives the date when the new year starts. Thanks for supporting your academic students!
Additionally, the funds used for this project were part of an employer matching gift. During our COVID-19 fundraiser, a $250 donation turned into a $500 matching gift. When the $500 arrived in late July, we immediately applied it to this project.
Finally, these photos show how your generosity inspired Annita to give back. The academic students started wearing theirs in August. We hope the vocational students will wear theirs later this month. Thank you for helping a graduate Pay it forward!