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!
As we move into September, your vocational training students continue to progress in their year-long program. Additionally, each course meets three times a week for two-hour sessions and spend over 85% of their on practicals. The students that started late receive extra help from their instructor and fellow students to catch up with their course work.
Also, some of the students started last month after Kelvin Fomba, UDS Co-Founder & Director, offered a partial scholarship to the Bethlehem Baptist School graduates (Deborah’s Alma Mater) during his talk. Furthermore, over half (about 40) took him up on the offer and started their courses in the last two weeks.
Previously, we shared how a few students enrolled in two courses. Well, one student juggles three courses—computers, cosmetology, and hotel management and volunteered to help the children attending our academy. We applaud, Grace Gweh for going the extra mile in learning and giving back to younger students!
As you will see in these photos, your investment in young men and women is paying off by giving them valuable skills. They enjoy learning their respective trades and love showcasing their results.
Can you taste these sweet morsels? Your Catering Students, 12 to be exact, baked some delicious dinner rolls and then made pigs in the blanket. As they say in Liberia, “let’s eat!” Your Cosmetology Students practice and practice their hair plaiting (i.e. braiding) skills whether they have volunteers or not. Our school provides heads with hair as a practice tool. The students remained committed and focused on perfecting their craft.
Your Cosmetology Students practice and practice their hair plaiting (i.e. braiding) skills whether they have volunteers or not. Our school provides heads with hair as a practice tool. The students remained committed and focused on perfecting their craft.
As we complete the extension of our center. your Electrician Students help with the electrical connections. This course has grown to 25 students with one female. Fortunately, our center’s growth keeps them busy because they are hungry to put their skills to work.
Your Tailoring Students proudly wear shirts they made in class. Don’t you love this colorful fabric? The students first must master peddling a treadle machine, then they move into making clothes, uniforms, and so much more.
If you are planning to visit the center in the next six to eight months,you can taste some food from your catering students, get measured for a new outfit made from your tailoring students, enjoy a manicure/pedicure or hairstyle from your cosmetology students, or enjoy watching your other students demonstrate what they learned. Thank you for investing in these eager and hard-working students!
Can you believe that a new school year is about to begin? In fact, it has already started in some states like Oklahoma. For Liberia, the students return to school in early September. Our UDS Academy has been receiving many families interested in enrolling their students.
Recently, we received all the grade sheets from our 17 academic scholarship students. One graduated and the other 16 were promoted to next grade with two in the 12th grade. Since 2011, we have partnered with a few schools to offer scholarships to deserving students who needed financial assistance. Thank you to all the sponsors who support our young students!
Before we go into our featured article, we want to share some of the latest photos for our Cosmetology students. Their training includes plaiting (braiding) hair, manicures, and pedicures. They enjoy the opportunity to do their practicals during each class period. One of our hotel management graduates, Linda Foeday enrolled in this course to learn another trade. She also shared these photos.
Do you remember when Abel Kabba (Plumbing Student) said, “Thank you very much for doing great things that you aren’t even noticing“? It is hard to convey in our newsletters how much you are doing to help young men and women in Liberia receive quality training at our center. You are providing the necessary resources to make this possible. You are buying the practical materials, equipment, and tools to apply what they are learning in their respective courses. You are ensuring these students will graduate next year prepared and ready to start working immediately in their given trade.
Our cosmetology students are an example of how “practice makes perfect.” Each class they find their own clients and apply the many different styles of braids. This is called plaiting hair and is a unique art-form because it can take several hours of weaving their real hair with extensions. These type of hairstyles protect the ends of the hair and decrease tangling, breaking and shedding.
Your investment in our students allows them to perfect their craft. Photos by Roseline Sonday, Instructor
You can see your students are focused and detail-oriented while plaiting their client’s hair. Photos by Roseline Sonday, Instructor
We are nearing the end of the second month of classes at ourvocational training center. Our students are given ample opportunity to build their skills in their given field. Our instructors provide 80% of the students’ lessons as practical learning. This hands-on training happens in the classroom, out in the field for a contract, or part of community service project. Our goal is to help students gain marketable skills and teach them how to pay-it-forward with their training.
The next course we would like to introduce is Cosmetology. This is a nine-month course that offers young women the chance to learn how to work with hair (washing, cutting and styling), as well as other services like manicures, pedicures, etc. The instructor is Josephine Wabloh, who received her cosmetology certificate in Ghana. One of our students and assistant trainers of the Backpacks for Peace project, Roseline Sonday, is a teacher’s assistant for this course. She knows how to style hair and wants to learn other aspects of this trade.
Our talented team in Liberia built a stylist station for our students to practice working in a salon setting. They have hair to practice plaiting (which is a type of braid) that is draped over sting nailed to a wall. They also have one mannequin head, which is used to practice various types of protective styles. As part of their service learning, they provide free haircuts to children in the community.
The following photos show what our students are learning in this course:
Our students learning how to plait hair.
This is the stylist station built by our team of Kelvin Fomba (UDS co-founder) and Daude (carpenter)
These two students are learning to plait hair on this mannequin head.
Our instructor, Josephine Wabloh (blue & white dress) gives each student attention as they learn this trade.
Josephine shows a student how to plait hair while Roseline (white shirt & jeans) watches other students.
Our students practice giving manicures to females enrolled in other courses.
Our students giving free haircuts to children in the community.
You, our valued Star Supporters, have made this vocational training center possible. Your generous giving inspires our students to pay-it-forward as they learn their desired trade. We Thank You for your continued and heartwarming support of children and youth in Liberia!