Your compassion and generosity filled our new learning center with happiness. On October 29, 2016, we held the grand opening of our new Uniting Distant Stars (UDS) Learning Center in Liberia. During this program, your gift of school supplies was delivered to the remaining children, who are the grateful recipients of your service. This post highlights the fun-filled day from the words of Kelvin Fomba, UDS Co-Founder & Country Director:
You helped make this program success. Kelvin in upper left hand photo. Students performing in upper right. Lower two photos show the students attending our grand opening program.
First of all, we’d like to say thanks to the Almighty, the entire UDS team, and support team in USA and around the world for making this program a success. The program was so great, wonderful and exciting! The hall of our learning center was so congested, some people overflowed outside to the courtyard. We had about 450 kids, 150 parents, and about 30 special guests, including UDS Liberian team in Liberia attending the program.
UDS Learning Center is near many schools and as you can see the children can walk to it.
As you can see, our overflow of people were in the courtyard.
The miraculous part was this:all the kids were able to receive their school supplies individually along with their refreshments of popcorn and KoolAid. Rev. Samuel Enders, CEO & Founder of African Dream Academy, served as the keynote speaker of the program. He was so impressed about the development at the new learning center and the large population of kids filling the great hall. He also pledged $10,000 Liberian Dollars (equivalent to $120 USD) to be collected nest week.
Your brought happy to these young students as they receive their school supplies.
These smiles are for your kindness and support for their education.
You are the reason why these young students will succeed in school this year.
Rev. Samuel Enders is wearing the red & white striped shirt.
Video of Rev. Samuel Enders Introduction
As you can see in the photos, kids wearing the blue and red uniforms are from City of Joy School, The students in green and yellow uniforms are from Christian Kingdom Academy. Hossana Children Foundation and Russ Wood Christian Academy students were not in uniform.
Listen to the students chat before the program starts.
This is the largest program UDS has ever had. The kids performed numerous dramas, songs, and jokes that had everyone clapping and laughing. Also thanks, praises, prayers were shared from the kids, youth, parents, guests, the schools’ administration to You and all our UDS family in Liberia, USA, and around the world.
We end this post by sharing this happy day with all of you. Rev. Enders led the children in singing “If Are You Happy & You Know It,” and we invite you to sing along as you play this video.
Our heartfelt thanks to you for bringing happiness and joy to young students in Liberia!!!
Can you hear it? Our joyful children and youth in Liberia are singing their praises and thanks to you! They are so grateful to you for raising $3,500 in this year’s school supply drive, from both our annual campaign and our Dimes for Dreams promotion. Through your unfailing support, we raised 50% of our goal, and this will put needed school supplies in the hands of young children. Our Liberian team worked with all three schools on how to give each one of the 700 students supplies, because no one wants a young child to go home empty handed!
Here is the schedule for the distribution of your generous gift to these children:
October 23: Rogma International School in Paynesville will host their program for students to receive their supplies. (Photos & stories will be posted soon).
October 29: City of Joy & Russ Wood students & parents are invited to attend UDS Learning Center Grand Opening Program In Divine Town Community to receive their supplies and learn about our programs.
Your faith and commitment to our cause empowered our team in Liberia to complete the painting of the building and move into to our new site. One of our long-time donors provided a donation to install electricity in our new learning center. We opened to students over a week ago. While the building serves the students with their educational and vocational training needs, we will continue to solicit funds to finish the renovations, pay the remaining portion of the lease, buy needed equipment and supplies, and provide salaries.
Kelvin (right) completing the final touches of the building.
Inside the main hall with its new lights.
The other side of the main hall.
This leads to the door of the registration office.
You inspire excellence! Young students receiving help with their homework.
One of our teachers providing a study class for young students.
Another teaching holding a study class for older students.
Students learning how to use the computer.
Computers students learning the how to use basic software programs.
Your compassionate service to the children & youth in Liberia is providing them with the knowledge & supplies they need to succeed in their academic studies. We give you our whole-hearted “Thank You!” for making this all possible!
Uniting Distant Stars Liberian Co-Founder and Country Director Kelvin Fomba has a message to share to You, our valued Star Supporter.
Hello, UDS Team in the U.S. and around the world. First of all, we say, “thanks and appreciation for your wonderful support!” The Liberia Team has worked nonstop with the renovations because our old learning center can no longer accommodate the 250-plus students from around the city seeking our study classes. All schools are open right now, so the kids and youth are eager to start their study classes at our new learning center. Therefore, our volunteers and youth have joined hands to work hard at the new learning by cleaning, painting, and other finishing work in some parts of the building.
Here are photos showing some of our scholarship students–Blessing, Deborah, Ishmael, Korlu, Korlu (yes there are two), and Rita–cleaning the floor along with one of their classmates.
Young Liberians showing their appreciation for your amazing support by cleaning the floor of our new learning center.
These young ladies are using brooms and rags to remove the white wash paint from the floor.
Your steadfast generosity give students like Rita a reason to smile while she works.
Your kindness and support provides hope to our youth that they will go the extra mile to prepare our learning center for opening.
Your compassion for Uniting Distant Stars youth empowers them to work together to clean their new learning center.
Please stay tuned for our next update showing the slow but steady transformation of our new learning center. You are appreciated and praised by our youth and volunteers in Liberia for making their lives better!
Schools started opening this week in Liberia; however, not all children will be enrolled. In fact, “Liberia has the highest proportion of children missing out on primary school education, the United Nations said on Thursday, with nearly two-thirds of its children never stepping inside a classroom (source: Thomson Reuters Foundation News).” This equates to 62% of Liberian children not receiving primary education. As we all know, elementary school is the foundation for our educational careers and without it, we are less likely to secure a livable wage job.
UDS Star Supporters have been delivering school supplies to Russ Wood Students since 2012. They hold all classes in this one room building from kindergarten to seventh grade.
Since 2011, Uniting Distant Stars has provided scholarships to young students, who had no financial support to stay in school. Our sponsors are committed to supporting their students either through 6th grade or 12th grade. We had our first high school graduate in 2014 and two more in 2016. This is one of three programs that UDS supports the education of children and youth in Liberia.
During the 2015-2016 academic, four dedicated Star Supporters sponsored 15 students. Out of the 15, seven maintained an 80% or better for the year and six were between 70% to 80%. We have not received the grade sheets of the two graduates yet, but we know both passed.
Unfortunately, we had our first drop out this year. This student was in the 5th grade and 18 years of age. Their education was disrupted by the civil war, poverty, and Ebola that forced them to be an older student in grade school. It is quite difficult and frustrating to be an older student sitting among younger children. All attempts were made to mentor this young person this past year to stay in school by their mother, teachers and vice principal, andUDScountry director and volunteers. However, this young adult decided to quit and we had to honor their wish.UDSdoors are always open for this young person and we hope they will want to resume their education when they are ready.
This student’s story stresses the importance of helping children attend school at an early age. In addressing this concern,UDShas added to new young students attending kindergarten through one of our sponsors. We hope to add two more young children as we wait for confirmation from two other sponsors. We currently have 15 scholarship students enrolled and their total tuition is $4,025 for this school year.
As mentioned earlier, our scholarship program is one way we support education in Liberia. The other two are our learning center and annual school supply drives. TheUDSLearning Center allows students to access a library and after school study classes to complete homework and prepare for tests. Our annual school supply drive provides 700 students with the basic necessities they need to take notes, complete they daily lessons and so forth. Sadly, several students are returning to school empty handed because their parents are unable to buy these essential supplies.
Your generosity is extremely appreciated by the children and youth you serve in Liberia. Also, your continued support ensures young Liberians have an opportunity to achieve their academic requirements. Finally, your investment in the education of Liberian students provides a return of theiremployabilityin the job market or ability to start a business.
Our 6th Annual School Supply Drive is about to end but there is still time to donate, share and encourage others to support Liberia’s young children. Click here for the different ways to donate or share this post on your social media sites. Remember #EducationMatters. Thank you!!!
The computer may be an integral part of homes, schools, and companies in developed nations but for Africans, it is a distant dream. This could be one of the reasons why young Africans are incapable of competing in the global market. For those aspiring to learn computer technology, they need to enroll and pay tuition at computer training centers separate from their schools. When you add in the current economic and social barriers, it makes this training inaccessible when almost fifty percent of the African population live from hand to mouth.
Traditional schools and colleges in African nations have facilities for basic computer training, but tragically these can be outdated and unable to prepare graduates for competitive positions. Furthermore in Liberia, nearly 50% of the population is under the age of 15 when it is the right time for them to learn this technology.
Ironically in this information age, many graduates have never used a computer. Their inexperience drastically narrows job opportunities both at home and internationally. Technology is the mainstay in private and public sector companies, and jobs paying decent salaries demand computer proficiency. Currently, job applications are accepted as electronic forms only, thus depriving young Liberians of applying for entry-level vacancies due to insufficient computer knowledge as well as access to email and Internet facilities.
This is why Uniting Distant Stars (UDS) opened a Computer Lab in order to provide young Liberians with free training to become computer literate. UDS created an avenue for youth to develop basic computing skills and learn standard software applications. Students who complete this course will be better equipped to find and secure jobs in the future.
Written by Rodney Johnson, UDS Computer Trainer and Kelvin Fomba, UDS Co-Founder and Country Director
Liberian children and youth witnessed their wishes being answered in the past two weeks. Uniting Distant Stars (UDS) raised $2,042 (shy of our $2,500 goal) from our generous Star Supporters to upgrade our Learning Center in Congo Town, Liberia. Our Liberian team led by Kelvin Fomba, Co-Founder and Country Director, went the extra mile to check off the items on the students’ original wish list. In the last eight days another $360 was donated from new and existing benevolent supporters. Their gracious generosity will buy other items on the list such as fans to keep the center comfortable, additional books for the library, chalk board for instructors, and other crucial needs for its operations.
Like any good upgrade you need to have a release party. On Friday March 25, UDS Learning Center hosted two programs. The first one was organized by the UDS Youth Group. Since it was Good Friday, they focused on Easter. During this three-hour program they talked about the meaning of Easter, played some games, and also had a Bible quizzing contest between the boys and girls. They had two rounds with each having 20 questions and one question was worth 10 points. The boys and girls tied in the first round. However, in the second round the boys out scored the girls 120 to 80. Our Youth Group’s program was a resounding success and everyone had a great time.
Youth Groups Program
UDS Youth Bible Quizzing Contest
The second program followed soon after to introduce our youth to the new UDS Computer Lab. They have eagerly waited for this lab ever since we started the upgrade campaign last year. The original plan was to have four computers, but Kelvin reached out to his connections and helped secure six used PCs–four laptops and two desktops. He is still negotiating on adding one or two more computers. Our team also built computer desks and bought a stabilizer to protect the PCs from power surges and outages, because electricity is neither consistent nor reliable. Another stabilizer will be purchased with the recent donations to ensure the electrical load is distributed evenly.
UDS Computer Lab
Our team expected 25 to 30 young Liberians to attend this three-hour program, but it attracted over 50. Computer training is in high demand with Liberian youth, but not everyone can afford to take courses at vocational training schools. This is why our team went all out in preparing the lab and its introduction program.
Kelvin Fomba introducing the computer lab.
Kelvin opened with how the computer lab will operate and its corresponding rules. Next part was to determine who would be the first recipients of this training course. Kelvin and his volunteers devised a raffle drawing to select trainees since there was a ratio of approximately four students to one computer. Our youth anxiously waited to hear who were the lucky winners as each name was pulled. Soon twelve students were chosen to attend one of two classes, because we wanted to accommodate as many as possible.
Liberian Youth learning about the new UDS Computer Lab
The students will learn about computer hardware, basic software and internet functions in this month-long course. Other students wanting to attend this course signed up on a list and will participate in computer theory classes as they wait their turn for the practical training. The training materials and curriculum for this program are being developed by our volunteers in Liberia and Minnesota.
UDS Youth learning about computers.
First Students of the UDS Computer Lab
Another part of the upgrade included expanding our library collection. On Monday March 14, two of our youth volunteers, Patrick and Princess, purchased 52 books from the list of requested titles and topics from our students. These books are required by their schools as part of the curriculum. Though our volunteers bought 80% of the books requested by the students, their list continues to grow. Eventually, we like to purchase additional copies of the main books to allow more than one student to use for their homework assignments.
Additional books purchased for the library
UDS Youth appreciating the new books.
The following day these new books were included in our studying classes. There are two objectives with these study classes as follows:
Students are asked a series of questions about the subject(s) and topic(s) for their assignments and are then shown how to find books in the library and search for the information within the book.
Students are given detailed instruction from one of volunteer teachers on a particular subject area that they are working on at school to help bolster their understanding and ability to apply it in their homework and exams.
Students receiving a tour of the UDS library.
UDS first opened our learning center over a year ago with a small library and providing skills training courses such as auto mechanics, drivers ed and Backpacks for Peace. In September 2015, it had its first upgrade with building extra shelves for additional books donated from the U.S. and more tables for students to complete their homework. This second upgrade was centered on the requests of our students to best meet their educational needs since their schools are not able to provide the required books and textbooks or computer labs. Through our growing community of bighearted supporters, our students are extremely grateful and overjoyed with seeing their wishes being fulfilled.
All of us at Uniting Distant Stars extend our heartfelt Thanks and Appreciation to our most generous Star Supporters!
Please read these additional posts about our learning center.