Your generous giving changes the lives of young men and women participating in our vocational training program. Marron Zor enrolled in our computer course one year ago with no prior experience. She first connected with me on Messenger in August 2018. The students were learning Microsoft Word at that time, and she explained how she enjoyed working with tables and inserting text. She then shared her excitement after passing the Microsoft word test and looked forward to the next section!
Now, fast forward to March 2019, and Marron messaged me to announce that she is graduating. She then said, “I want to appreciate all of you for giving Liberian youth vocational knowledge. I now know how to work with Excel, Access, Word, Publisher, and PowerPoint. I also thank Mr. Fomba (instructor) for his hard work. I hope to see myself in my own cafe or working at the bank.”
Your impact as a Classroom Hero gives students like Marron a chance to learn a valuable skill and gain the confidence to pursue a better future. Thank you for investing in Liberian Youth, because they are worth it!
From all of the board members and volunteers of Uniting Distant Stars, we would like to express our immense gratitude for all of our donors. This past year we were able to accomplish many things. From the opening of our Vocational Training Center to the many students who graduated from the program, your belief and support in our vision have helped young people use their new skills to change the world around them. We would now like to share with you more information on how Uniting Distant Stars has been impacting the of youth in Liberia.
Auto Mechanics Course
With this course, students are taught a craft that they can use to not just help themselves but also help others. In the beginning, students study how to identify different parts of machines that they will use later on. During the course, students also master different maintenance services such as oil changes, repairing brakes, and overhauling engines. Both young men and women take part in this course and gain knowledge that allows them to create opportunities for themselves.
Students that have enrolled in this course have been able to learn many valuable lessons. At the start, they learn the basics of food preparation and how it is important to ensure all the necessary equipment and ingredients are together before they move forward with a recipe. They also go over safety procedures to ensure that everyone is safe while learning. During this course, students are able to practice making different baked goods along with full course meals. An important aspect of this program is teaching them skills that they can use to be independent. In the end, students can apply what they have learned by having their own catering businesses or any other opportunities they find.
Because we live in a technological age, computer skills are important to have. This course focuses on teaching students how to use a computer for various functions. During the course of the year, the students have studied about the many components of a computer along with using Microsoft software. They are also taught basic typing skills and use what they have mastered to not only browse the internet but also complete online job applications.
While enrolled in this particular course students obtain many valuable skills to be successful in this area of expertise. The students gain knowledge on how to properly cut hair and master the art of plaiting (braiding) hair. In addition, they are taught how to perform both manicures and pedicures as part of the curriculum. The students apply their skills by giving free haircuts and other treatments to kids within the community. Seasoned students recruit clients and earn money as they provide services to cover the cost of hair and other materials.
As students enroll in the courses at Uniting Distant Stars, they practice different crafts that empower them to acquire new skills to help lead them into their bright futures. Students studying to become electricians begin by covering the basics about what electricity is. Then, throughout the course, students go over many parts and tools. To showcase all they have studied, they work on projects such as installing lights, outlets, and switches.
Hotel Management Course
This course gives students the opportunity to gain knowledge about an industry that is very prominent throughout the world. In the beginning, students absorb information about the hotel industry and the many operations that are a part of working in hotel management. They are also trained in customer service and how to treat guests properly. To help them gain real-world experience, students are given the opportunity to intern at two local hotels where they can further sharpen their skills.
The courses available at UDS are diverse and offer youth many opportunities to enhance their previous skills and learn new ones. The plumbing course allows students to learn about plumbing systems and how they function. Students understand the importance of the sanitation and how plumbing systems function. Students also learn about the different tools involved and apply their knowledge by installing pipes and other commonly used fixtures such as sinks, tubs, and commodes within the community.
Like many of the other courses, students use what they have learned to not only better themselves but also their communities. As students study the trade of tailoring, they learn how to make clothes and other items. Whether they’re learning how to properly use machinery or they are working with fabric and stitching, students are gaining knowledge in a skill that can be used to benefit everyone.
As you can see, within the span of our one-year courses students are encouraged to study many skills and put them into action. No matter what circumstances they come from, each student strives to make the most of their opportunity. Once again, we want to show our appreciation to our donors and those who support our work. You are not just investing for the future of these youth but towards the future of Liberia.
Kevin Nah is a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota Duluth with degrees in Cultural Entrepreneurship & Hispanics Studies. He is currently a Communications Intern at Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC). Kevin service with Uniting Distant Stars started in 2017 and he previously wrote an inspiring article, “This Could Have Been Me“.
Your continued generosity flows like a river of opportunity for aspiring young Liberian men and women. One of our graduates Abu B Kiawu, who rode your current of hope, posted his inspiring testimony on Facebook of his journey with Uniting Distant Stars. He gave us permission to share his eloquently written message of gratitude:
You made Abu’s journey possible, and his expression of gratitude illustrates how your continued support is making a difference for him and his fellow graduates. Thank you!
As a valued Star Supporter, you improve the learning environment for our ambitious students. In the last newsletter we shared the story ofAdam Pederson’s Facebook Fundraiserfor our computer lab. We combined the $2,020 raised from his two donors with the $180 fromFlorkime Paye’s Facebook Fundraiser(the remainder went towards the graduation) earlier this year to purchase additional computers.
Kelvin Fomba, Co-Founder and Director, negotiated a deal with a vendor to purchase:
12 used desktop computers loaded with Microsoft Software, Mavis Beacon Typing Application, and other software
12 combo chair desks
Photos (clockwise starting top left): 1) New computers 2) Dauda Dassin and Roseline Sonday setting up the computers 3) Kelvin Fomba arranging the desks
The final price is $2,800, and we are raising funds for the $600 balance. Thank you to all the Star Supporters for fulfilling this need! Because of you, our lab consists of 20 computers for the benefit of our students.
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