UDS Training Center Powered By Solar

UDS Training Center Powered By Solar

As a small and humble organization, our gratitude reaches beyond the stars everytime you make a dream come true. Our quest for solar started a year ago when our small group visited a farm in Carver, Minnesota that was fully operated by this renewable energy. This experience gave us the hope and inspiration to make this possible. In June, we discussed this opportunity at our strategic plan meeting to determine the feasibility. After agreeing to move forward with this project, the fundraising plans began. In October, a fundraiser in New York City raised over $5,200 for this initiative. And as of January 26, 2019, solar power electrifies our center.

The first phase of our solar initiative provides 24/7 lights, runs ceiling fans for cooling in our classrooms, and supports our business office during the day. A total cost of $6,000 (includes general funds) purchased all the materials for phase 1. As a learning opportunity, the vendor Taleance T Tokpah (the owner of T & T Solar Tech) worked with our electrician students to install the solar.

Taleance T Tokpah standing in the center by the table instructs our students on how to test the panels.

Before we can implement phase 2, our diesel generator will be used for our computer training course three times a week. In the near future, we will discuss the next steps to cover all our center’s power needs on solar. In the meantime, please enjoy the photos of our students learning something new.

Panel Installation

You empowered our electrician students (blue and red shirts) to help install our solar panels with our vendor and technician, Taleance T Tokpah.

Your electrician students working together to install solar panels under the guidance of Taleance T Tokpah.

Wire Connection

Your students and Kelvin Fomba (UDS Co-Founder & Director) testing the connections between the roof and ceiling.

Your student preparing the wire to connect the panels to the control box.

UDS Lights Powered By Solar

UDS Training Center now powered by solar.

Thank you so much to our generous supporters in New York City! You gave our students reliable and stable electricity at our center. What remarkable gift! Also, our sincere thanks to Taleance T Tokpah for sharing his knowledge and expertise with our students!

Never Take 24/7 Electricity for Granted

Never Take 24/7 Electricity for Granted

As you know, one of our greatest challenges is reliable electricity. In late November, the transformer blew-out near our center. Additionally, the company said it would not be fixed until February. Previously, the transformer failed numerous times in the last three years. However, it never took this long to be repaired. 

Due to this issue, we purchased a diesel generator to operate our computer course because the electrical load overpowers our gas machine. For now, we use this noisy and dirty generator. Without delay, our Liberian Co-Founder, Kelvin Fomba, works overtime to find an appropriate vendor to determine our needs for solar.

In short, implementing a solar project requires patience and ample resources. Despite raising $5,200 in October, the funds fall short of covering our electrical needs. Thus, Kelvin contacted local companies to compare estimates of kilowatt-hour usage and costs of installing solar. Initially, we hope to start with enough solar panels to cover our lights 24/7 and our business office during the day. During the off hours, the freezer will be turned on for our water sales.  Presently, we sell water to help buy stationery supplies, phone cards, etc. In the meantime, the diesel generator will operate three days a week to supply the electricity for computer classes.

As they often say in Liberia, “it is not easy-o.” Stay tuned for updates as we complete the first phase of this project and plan for the next phase.

Thank you to everyone helping us achieve reliable and sustainable energy!!!

Shine a Light on Education Fundraiser in New York City

Shine a Light on Education Fundraiser in New York City

Uniting Distant Stars made its debut in the Big Apple with the well-organized efforts of Adam Pederson, Board Secretary. He worked with a friend to host a fundraiser on October 19 from 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM in Manhattan’s East Village. He found donated items such as African Art and modern abstract paintings for the silent auction. There was also a raffle draw for prizes of wine and champagne. The event offered free wine and hors d’oeuvres.

These photos show the various donated items for the silent auction. Photos by Adam Pederson

The goal of this fundraiser was $5,000 for our solar power initiative. Adam secured an anonymous $2,500 matching the gift to encourage people to donate and double their impact. This event was a huge success by raising $5,292…an exceeded goal! There were about 30 people who participated in this event and who brought more awareness to our vocational training program in Liberia. 

We will continue working with solar professionals in both Liberia and Minnesota to coordinate the next steps. The goal is not only to install solar panels but to have our electrician students help with the installation. All of UDS is overjoyed with making this strategic goal a reality.

Many Thanks to our new and continued supporters that contributed to helping Liberian Youth obtain marketable and valuable skills in trade careers!!!

Empowering Youth with Solar Power Initiative

Empowering Youth with Solar Power Initiative

One of our greatest challenges in Liberia is reliable electricity. We are connected to a grid in our community, but the main transformer has had several power outages and surges that force us to use our backup generator. This increases our monthly electricity expenses and damaged some of our equipment. 

In January 2018, we visited one of our supporters at Maddy and Harri Wegner’s farm in Carver, Minnesota. Harri installed 150 solar panels and this supports his farming operation.  Our Liberian team–Kelvin Fomba, Dominic Siafa, and Dauda Dassin joined via Google Hangout. His solar panels are part of the grid, and he sells solar energy to the electrical company. He shared his knowledge about solar and how it is better to be on a grid instead of a battery pack because the latter loses more energy. He mentioned that micro-grids could be an option to take advantage of more efficient energy use.

Heather Cannon with Harri as he explained the solar panel installation

On June 22, we held our strategic planning meeting, and solar became our number one priority. Our goal is not only to install solar panels at our center in Liberia but also to certify and train our electrician students and recent graduates to be technicians in this renewable energy field. If you having any contacts working with solar panels, please connect them with us. Thank you!

Become a Classroom Hero and DONATE today to support the vocational training of Liberia Youth!