Our heartfelt Thanks to our long-standing supporter, Julie B. from Oklahoma! She gave a generous donation of $500 during our Give to the Max Day and selected to purchase two computers from our Become a Classroom Hero donation page.
Earlier this month (January 2019), we purchased two new used desktops for our computer training lab. As a result of Julie’s generosity, our computer lab continues to benefit the Liberian Youth taking our most popular course.
Thank you so much, Julie, for these two beautiful computers!
By Kevin Nah, Marketing Volunteer
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“.
When you invest in young people of any nation, you are developing the leaders of tomorrow. Your continued support provides leadership development with our youth. In July, the students elected their student council from a field of interested candidates. They planned an installment program for their new leaders and to celebrate their accomplishments in their given courses.
As they were planning their program, Jackson George (Consul General of the Minnesota Liberian Consulate) contacted us about visiting our center during his trip to Liberia. The original plan was to have him visit on July 30, but this became a holiday for the senatorial election, so the students decided to invite him to their program so he could endorse their leadership and be their guest speaker.
Jackson enjoyed being part of this program and meeting our students. When asked in an email if he had anything to share about his visit he responded, “I just want people to know about the great work you are doing to help the people of Liberia. It was a learning and exciting process for me.” Everyone is very grateful to Jackson for making this a successful and memorable program.
The program started with the students from the various courses showcasing what they have learned during the first third of their term.
Your students showcasing what they have learned (left to right, top to bottom): Catering, Computer, Cosmetology, Electrician, Plumbing, and Tailoring students
Next, Jackson shared motivational words with the students about the benefits of learning a trade and also how to use social media to share what they are learning and to connect with people.
Jackson George, Consul General of Minnesota Liberian Consulate, inspiring UDS students to achieve their goals and make a difference
Jackson followed his talk by endorsing our new Student Council who will be serving until they graduate next year.
Congrats to the 2018/2019 Uniting Distant Stars Student Council!
New Student Council (left to right): Teddy Jr, Ngayenga (President), Caraton M. Mahn (Vice President), Sylvester T. Yeah Jr (Secretary-general), Emmanuel L. Tarr (Financially secretary), Abraham C. Morgan (advisor), Zawida Gaylee (Treasurer), & Aujustine Kouadio (Chaplain)
Two years ago, you answered the call of our youth to open a computer lab at our old learning center. We started with six computers and provided free training to cover the basics of computing.
Now, two years later and due to your continued generous support, we have 20 computers in our lab at the UDS Vocational Training Center. Our current one-year course has 44 students who are enrolled in one of three sections. Each section meets for two hours, three times a week. During this year-long course, our students learn how to assemble a desktop computer, how to work a keyboard and mouse, how to standard type, how to use Microsoft Suite Software, and how to browse the Internet.
Your computer students learning how to type with Mavis Beacon Software
Our students love the quality of training they receive in our computer lab. Because many of them have attended other institutions in Monrovia, we know that UDS stands out as follows:
- There is one student per computer during the two-hour class.
- The course topics are combined as one package that is affordable to the student instead of being divided into individual classes requiring students to enroll and pay tuition for each one.
- Our curriculum allows the students to apply their knowledge in beneficial ways such as writing their Curriculum Vitae (similar to a resume) in Microsoft Word or creating a PowerPoint Presentation on a topic of their choice.
You may remember that two months ago we shared a testimony from Abu B Kiawu. He graduated from our computer course on March 24, 2018, and his testament illustrates our commitment to educate and train Liberia’s rising stars.
Without a doubt, your investment in providing marketable skill training for Liberian Youth is paying off. Thank you for being their Classroom Hero and Star Supporter!
Your students love learning in our computer lab!
Your continued support ensures that young Liberians receive high-quality computer training at our vocational training center and that they are prepared to meet the demands of the ever-changing world!
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!