Meet Your 2019/2020 Graduates

Meet Your 2019/2020 Graduates

2019/2020 Diploma Covers

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! 

Meet your Catering Graduates who made all the delicious treats during the past year. Some interned at Kailando Hotel near our center.
Meet your Computer Graduates who have learned the components, typing, and Microsoft Suite. Graduate with *** took 3 courses and ** took 2 courses.
Meet your Cosmetology Graduates, who have learned how to style hair, give facials, and manicures/pedicures. Graduate with *** took 3 courses.
Meet your Electrician Graduates with our first female, Mayesa, who learned how to work and install electricity along with installing our second phase of solar.
Meet your Hotel Management Graduates, who learned the many different roles from the front desk to housekeeping. Some interned at Kailando Hotel near our center. Graduate with *** took 3 courses and ** took 2 courses.
Meet your Plumbing Graduates who learned how to install pipe and fixtures, and connect the waterline, and your Tailoring Graduate learned how to cut and sew any outfit you would like.

Our heartfelt THANKS for being part of their year-long learning journey! Your kindness and support helped them achieve this important milestone of graduating. 

Planning for Post-COVID-19

Planning for Post-COVID-19

While it is not clear when schools will reopen in Liberia, we have started our planning for Post-COVID-19. We continue to re-evaluate our safety standards from the Ebola crisis that included a handwashing station and taking temperatures before entering the building. Furthermore, our primary students learn about hygiene in their health & science class at the beginning of the school year. Without a doubt, Ebola gave us the template for our current safety standards.

Now we need to add masks to these standards. Kelvin Fomba spent a few weeks studying various face mask designs to get some ideas. He enlisted our tailoring instructor and one student to test out his concept of blending some different designs.

The masks below have three layers: decorative material for the outside, interlining for the middle layer, and soft fabric for the inside so it feels good on the face. Also, they have foam where it fits over the nose to prevent any pinching. The brown and white mask has two elastic bands to fit around the head and the other two have strings to tie. Kelvin shared how they are comfortable and breathable when wearing them. Last but not least, they are washable.

From this prototype, we plan to enlist our tailoring department to masks for all students. This way we can ensure everyone’s safety when social distancing is not possible.

Your investment in Liberian Youth is paying off

Your investment in Liberian Youth is paying off

As we move into September, your vocational training students continue to progress in their year-long program. Additionally, each course meets three times a week for two-hour sessions and spend over 85% of their on practicals. The students that started late receive extra help from their instructor and fellow students to catch up with their course work.

Also, some of the students started last month after Kelvin Fomba, UDS Co-Founder & Director, offered a partial scholarship to the Bethlehem Baptist School graduates (Deborah’s Alma Mater) during his talk. Furthermore, over half (about 40) took him up on the offer and started their courses in the last two weeks. 

Previously, we shared how a few students enrolled in two courses. Well, one student juggles three courses—computers, cosmetology, and hotel management and volunteered to help the children attending our academy. We applaud, Grace Gweh for going the extra mile in learning and giving back to younger students! 

As you will see in these photos, your investment in young men and women is paying off by giving them valuable skills. They enjoy learning their respective trades and love showcasing their results.

Catering Students

Can you taste these sweet morsels? Your Catering Students, 12 to be exactbaked some delicious dinner rolls and then made pigs in the blanket. As they say in Liberia, “let’s eat!” Your Cosmetology Students practice and practice their hair plaiting (i.e. braiding) skills whether they have volunteers or not. Our school provides heads with hair as a practice tool. The students remained committed and focused on perfecting their craft. 

Your catering students showing their dinner roles & pigs in a blanket.

Cosmetology Students

Your Cosmetology Students practice and practice their hair plaiting (i.e. braiding) skills whether they have volunteers or not. Our school provides heads with hair as a practice tool. The students remained committed and focused on perfecting their craft. 

Your cosmetology students practice plaiting (braiding) hair.

Electrician Students

As we complete the extension of our center. your Electrician Students help with the electrical connections. This course has grown to 25 students with one female. Fortunately, our center’s growth keeps them busy because they are hungry to put their skills to work. 

Your electrician students connecting the wires to power the extension.

Tailoring Students

Your Tailoring Students proudly wear shirts they made in class. Don’t you love this colorful fabric? The students first must master peddling a treadle machine, then they move into making clothes, uniforms, and so much more.

Your tailoring students modeling the shirts they made.

If you are planning to visit the center in the next six to eight months,you can taste some food from your catering students, get measured for a new outfit made from your tailoring students, enjoy a manicure/pedicure or hairstyle from your cosmetology students, or enjoy watching your other students demonstrate what they learned. Thank you for investing in these eager and hard-working students! 

You Give Opportunities for Liberian Youth to Learn

You Give Opportunities for Liberian Youth to Learn

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.

Catering Course

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.

Computer Course

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.

Cosmetology Course

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.

Electrician Course

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.

Plumbing Course

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.

Tailoring Course

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“.

Many Thanks to Mary Rosendahl’s Facebook Fundraiser

Many Thanks to Mary Rosendahl’s Facebook Fundraiser

One of the greatest achievements of Facebook is to allow people to raise funds for causes they believe in. Uniting Distant Stars (UDS) continues to benefit from these types of fundraisers. In July, our founding board member and “Recipes for Learning” Cookbook project lead, dedicated her birthday to support UDS. She and her eight donors raised $755, and their generosity bought three new treadle sewing machines. This brings us to a total of 11 sewing machines.

Our tailoring course has doubled in size from 6 last year to 12 this year. It is nice to see this course trending upwards because it is one of the first training classes we offered. In the past, we piloted a backpack project–transforming recycled plastic into a durable good–with the only four sewing machines. This launched the Backpacks for Peace Service Learning Project in 2015. We increased our sewing machines to 10 and trained 20 students how to sew these backpacks. These backpacks filled with school supplies were donated to young school children later that year.
Thanks again to Mary and her eight generous donors for improving the training experience for 12 Tailoring Students!!!