New Electrician Students Install Solar Power

New Electrician Students Install Solar Power

Reliable and uninterrupted electricity improves the quality of education for students at our training center. On June 12, Taleance T Tokpah (the owner of T & T Solar Tech) spent the day teaching 18 electrician students about solar power and giving them real experience with installing it. Please read the caption of each photo to know what they experienced and gained from this opportunity. 

Your Electrician Students arrive at the center to learn about solar power.
Your electrician students beaming with excitement on learning about solar power from Taleance T Tokpah (lower right).
Your students working together to put up the ladders for the solar panel installation.
Your student moves up the ladder as he carries the solar panel. The ladder protects the zinc roof. 
Your students and Mr. Tokpah (Tech) working together to secure the solar panels. 
Your students demonstrate their willingness to dive in with learning this valuable trade.
Your students, under Mr. Tokpah’s (Tech) supervision, wire the computer lab to connect with solar power. 
Your students threading the wire through the pipe that will be part of the control area of the computer lab.
Mr. Tokpah (Tech) explaining on the controller works in supplying solar energy to the room.
Mr. Tokpah (Tech) explaining to our students how solar will power the computers in our lab. 
Your student testing a computer that is now powered by solar!

As you can see, solar also powers our students in learning renewable energy with this practical experience with Taleance T Tokpah (the owner of T & T Solar Tech). Your generous support made this learning opportunity possible for your electrician students. Although the current economic situation caused us to miss our mark in achieving 100% renewable energy, we did connect half our computer lab. Thank you for being a Classroom Hero for Liberian Youth! 

UDS’ Impromptu Fundraiser

UDS’ Impromptu Fundraiser

by Beyan Gonowolo, UDS Board Member & Outreach Coordinator

Beyan Gonowolo

UDS’ impromptu fundraiser on May 4th was nothing less than successful. Though we did not obtain the attendance we anticipated, our guests who attended donated approximately four times more than our expected goal for the fundraiser: $1,253 in donations and future pledges! Individuals who did not attend also reached out and made their donation via Cash App ($UDStars) and through our organization’s website. We are very appreciative to all of our donors who always go above and beyond to allow UDS to keep making a difference in Liberia.

Money raised from this fundraiser will be put toward UDS’ sustainability goal. As discussed in prior newsletters, UDS is working to become a self-sustaining organization by investing and expanding its vocational program so that these programs are able to generate the necessary funds required to run themselves. Money from this fundraiser will be put towards our solar panel initiative. Our goal for the future is to provide clean energy and low-cost electricity for residence in our community.

Event guests listening to Beyan as he makes his first request for donations. 

UDS not only gained financially from this fundraiser; we also gained human asset when a few individuals expressed interest in volunteering and applying for a board membership position. After successful completion of our application and interview process, our Team is glad to announce Yakasah Wehyee, a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota, to our Board. Yakasah’s experience and expertise definitely bring great experience to our Team and we look forward to working with him to make UDS better.

Honorable Jackson George, Consul General of Liberian Consulate made a brief appearance and shared about his visit to our vocational training center in July 2018. 

Editors Note: Beyan also prepared some culinary delights for this event that had everyone going for second or third helpings. On the left is a vegetable & salmon dish with fried plantains served with or with our rice. The center is salad and fruit. On the 

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!!!

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!