On Saturday, August 1, 2020, 60 vocational training graduates arrived to receive their diplomas. Two others showed up that day to check-in and received their diplomas later in the week. Since the schools closed in March, some students left the city to spend time with their families in the interior. So, we could see additional graduates in the coming weeks or months.
During the months of June and July, students came to the center to take a photo in a cap and gown for their diplomas. We took these photos and arranged them their respective courses as shown below. Please join us in congratulating the 2019/2020 graduates in receiving their diplomas!
Our heartfelt THANKS for being part of their year-long learning journey! Your kindness and support helped them achieve this important milestone of graduating.
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 the 2018 course year started on March 20, our hotel management course enrollment quadrupled compared to the previous year. Our beloved instructor Amed Saah Blama, who our students affectionately call “Hotel Papay,” brings over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry. His 19 students pleaded with our co-founder and director Kelvin Fomba to have specially designed uniforms that were similar to the ones in the various hotels and resorts in the country. Our students will also be interning later in this course at neighboring hotels York Town Plaza and Kailando.
Hotel Management Students with Mr. Blama in the back center
The hotel management students shared their ideas on how the mens’ and womens’ uniforms should look. Once they agreed on the final design, this project was assigned to our tailoring department. The material was purchased at the end of May for the 11 tailoring students to start sewing the hotel management uniforms. This assignment prepares our students for how to sew a custom uniform for any industry or school.
You make their practical learning possible!
Your investment in our tailoring students is giving them the chance to learn the highly demanded skill of making custom African clothes, along with school and work uniforms.
Enoch Daniel Tarr wrote the song, “Education is Better Than Silver & Gold” for UDS.
One of our computer students, Enoch Daniel Tarr, from 2016 wrote a song to promote Uniting Distant Stars Vocational Training Center. Enoch is 16 years old and wanted to express his gratitude for our programs through music.
Our creative and talented board member, Anna Bertch, created a music video of Enoch’s song with photos of all our courses. Please enjoy listening to this uplifting song that will get you moving with the music.
“Uniting Distant Stars believes in practical experience. Our students are so happy when they can do their practicals daily. They know graduation is nearing and learning everything they need to know before they receive their diploma. Good Luck students, you have UDS blessing already.” by Kelvin Fomba, USD Co-Founder & Director.
Your cosmetology students continue to apply their knowledge like pedicures to volunteers.
Can you believe it has been a year since our students started their vocational training journey? As you have seen throughout the year, our students are showing up to class daily and working hard to polish their skills in the given they field they embarked on. You made this quality learning opportunity possible by being their Classroom Hero and supplying the practical learning materials needed for them to successfully complete their course. You have witnessed their commitment and dedication to changing their lives for the better.
Your plumbing students learn how to install a tub and commode in our learning lab.