My Visit to UDS Liberia (Part 3 of 3)

My Visit to UDS Liberia (Part 3 of 3)

by Rita Apaloo, Board Member & Fundraising Team Chair

The VTC students had completed their training year and were preparing for graduation during my visit. I was able to meet some of the new incoming students on March 25. Many of them were recruited through radio promotions and others were referred by current or former students. In talking with some of the students, I learned that they chose to enroll for several different reasons including learning a vocation, getting credentials for something they have been doing, affordable program, job prospects, self-employment, quality (practical) training, proximity to the center, the sense of family/community at UDS, etc.

UDS 2019-2020 New Students (Photos by Rita Apaloo)

UDS instructors were all present to introduce themselves and share some information about their various courses, in an effort to entice the students to sign up with their respective departments. We had a good laugh listening to their persuasive speeches. The students were excited to get started and appreciated hearing my story of how both my parents benefitted from vocational training and were able to provide a great life for us kids by using their skills to build great careers over the years. I also shared about my UDS Board experience and urged them to work hard and become the kind of success stories that donors and potential donors love to support. We are all partners in this work and play important roles in building and growing the organization.

Unfortunately, the UDS Graduation was postponed past my visit so I wasn’t able to participate as initially planned. I also met with graduating students on March 30 who also appreciated my presence and story. After they took care of the business of fees, payments and other details about the ceremony, I thanked them and bid them good luck in their futures and encouraged them to stay in touch. I asked that they keep us posted on how they’re using their skills and learning and also about their accomplishments and successes.

 Read part 1 (click here) and part 2 (click here) of Rita’s visit to UDS. 

Rita with Elijah Kotee, Catering Graduate

I was honored to meet a couple of amazing students, Elijah Kotee and Gabriel Zargo, who had already found success even before graduation. Elijah completed UDS Catering training. He had a job working at a restaurant and also did independent catering when he wasn’t working for his employer. Elijah was appreciative of his UDS Diploma and said that the diploma was needed to open doors to the kinds of opportunities he would like to pursue. He also completed the Permaculture training program in hopes to someday combine both trainings to prepare sustainable farming food that he grows and provides a healthier option for his catering clients. Elijah has big dreams and more than enough passion to make it all happen. I have no doubt that sooner or later he will pull it off.

Gabriel Zargo, Computer Graduate

Gabriel completed UDS computer training and is an entrepreneur. His business, LifeChore, is an employment incubator that operates in the hospitality and manufacturing industries with the mission to help youth find great jobs. He was recognized during the meeting for having referred a couple of hospitality students from UDS graduating class to a business client. They were interviewed and offered employment at a hotel. He said that his company has helped over 20 youth find short and long term jobs. I was proud to have been a small part of their lives, dreams, and success through UDS. I can’t wait to see what more they accomplish in the future.

UDS 2018-2019 Graduates (Photo by Rita Apaloo)

Indeed, UDS is making dreams come true, one student at a time.

My Visit to UDS Liberia (Part 1 of 3)

My Visit to UDS Liberia (Part 1 of 3)

by Rita Apaloo, Board Member & Fundraising Team Chair

Rita Apaloo

On my recent trip to Liberia, March 2019, I had a long list of things to do, which included visiting UDS Center. I encountered many challenges checking things off my list but thankfully I made it to UDS not once but three separate times (March 21, 25 and 30)!

Monrovia and its surrounding areas are not well-planned so there is no specific address to follow to get to a location. People use landmarks to provide direction to a specific location. UDS is located on the Old Road behind the York Plaza Hotel, so I set out to find the hotel. On the way, we (my mom, another family member and I) stopped a young man strolling by to ask for directions. Luckily for us, not only did he know the York Plaza Hotel,  but he also was very familiar with UDS and agreed to hop into our vehicle to take us there. He said he had a friend who completed computer training at UDS and he had raved about the school, staff, and students. In fact, our guide had, at one time, consider checking out UDS to further his education since he was a high school graduate but hadn’t decided what post-secondary education he wanted to pursue. I thought this as a great testament to the UDS brand and reputation in the community.

UDS Vocational Training Center in Liberia

Part 2 of Rita’s visit will be shared in our next newsletter. Please stay tuned! 

Meet Our New Board Member, Rita Apaloo

Please join us in congratulating Rita Apaloo as our new board member. She attended our house party on September 18th to learn more about our organization and applied for a board position soon after. She was voted in unanimously on Saturday, October 21st, at our board meeting. She brings a wealth of nonprofit experience to our team, and we are excited to have her be part of our growing organization! Please read Rita’s bio below to learn more about her amazing service:

Rita believes strongly that providing vocational training as an option for young people in Liberia is critical to their becoming productive adults, as well as positive contributors in their families, communities, and country. What she hopes to bring to the UDS team is her ability to think strategically and generate creative ideas to solve problems and get things done. Rita has over twenty years of experience working in the nonprofit field in various roles including development, marketing, program evaluation, education, outreach, and others. She is a published author of “African Women Connect. How I created and grew a networking group of African immigrant women for friendship, business, and community.” Rita currently serves as “Director of Development and Marketing” at AccessAbility, Inc. She is passionate about community and is always involved in several initiatives. Rita has a B.A. degree in Strategic Communications and an Executive Master’s in Business Communications and is also a Certified Professional Project Manager (CPPM). She has contributed writings to community newspapers including Mshale and the African News Journal. Rita is a native of Liberia, West Africa, but has resided in the Minnesota Twin Cities area for the past 20+ years.