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.
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 Projectin 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!!!
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.
Our team in Liberia have been working double time to prepare the graduation for our 2017 students, and to recruit new students for 2018 term. On Saturday, March 17th, a new student orientation was held for 65 recruits. Our new students will start classes on March 19th, in the following courses:
We will soon be starting our campaign–“Classroom Heroes Today, Community Leaders Tomorrow”–to support our new students with the necessary learning materials and supplies to complete their courses. Your investment as the “Classroom Hero Today” will help our students become Community Leaders tomorrow.
We have recruited over 260 students and will hold additional orientations as more students complete their registration. A few of our graduates have registered for two courses, to add a second trade to their curriculum vitae.