Let There Be Light!

Let There Be Light!

By Adam Pederson, UDS Board Secretary

This past January, the students enrolled in Uniting Distant Stars electrician program assisted in installing the first stage of the long-awaited solar panels of the learning center in Monrovia. With the assistance of Taleance T Tokpah (who was the vendor from T & T Solar Tech and a technician himself) guiding them along the way, our students were able to bring the learning center to a new level of independence where it will not rely as heavily on the city’s unreliable grid nor a diesel generator.

Your students working with Mr. Tokaph installing solar panels on our center’s roof
Generator

The number of times after hours, work was done in the dark became numerous due to power outages. The cost of diesel also meant the generator was left for class hours and emergency use. Having a kitchen, coursework in electrical work and a newly updated computer lab are nothing without the power to make them run. But now they have that power.

Future students will not only be able to easily learn how solar panels work but also how to install and maintain them. Besides the usual skills that have been taught in our electrician course, the hands-on solar panel experience will give our students an additional skill that will set them apart when they are seeking full-time employment upon graduation in a field that currently does not have as many people with expertise in the growing field of renewable energy.

The solar panels also now show how easy it is to provide clean, environmentally-friendly power that lights up and powers many of the essentials needed to run a place of learning that provides for over 150 students and staff. It does not cover all of our energy needs but is a perfect example of what can be done on a modest budget to help the environment in the long run if done on a larger scale.

Our computer lab’s lights are powered by solar.

As discussed previously, these solar panels were mostly the result of generous donors who attended the Shine a Light on Education fundraiser in Manhattan last October. Uniting Distant Stars was able to surpass the initial goal of $5,000 and unite more “Stars” in showing the importance of supporting trade skills to improve local communities on the other side of the world. Without them, and supporters like you, our many students, their families, and the communities they live in would not be able to shine to their brightest abilities.

With the beginning of this new year, Uniting Distant Stars is counting its blessings and does not plan to slow down on its progress of expanding programs and opportunities for students in Liberia. With your help, we can continue to expand the number of solar panels at the learning center and become 100% renewable and self-reliant. 

You can help us reach our Phase 2 goal of $3,040 by joining two supporters who have already donated $1,025! Please donate today to complete our solar project. Thank you for Lighting Up the lives of Liberian Youth!

Announcing Upcoming Vocational Training Schedule

Announcing Upcoming Vocational Training Schedule

As we near the end of another one-year term of our vocational training courses, we wanted to announce the following schedule:

  • 2019/2020 VoTech student recruitment starts the end of January. Stay tuned to the radio airwaves in Liberia for more information.
  • 2018/2019 VoTech classes end February 28.
  • 2019/2020 VoTech classes start around the second week of March.
  • 2018/2019 Commencement Ceremony on March 31. If you are visiting Liberia at this time, please stop in and celebrate with our amazing graduates.

Please expect more updates in the next couple months as we prepare our current students for the transition after graduation and welcome our newest students.

Before we go, this short video shows the front of our building as the permaculture training students return from their field assignments. We hope you will stop and visit our center in the near future. Thank you!

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiZLTIXf1uU[/embedyt]

Recognizing Kelvin Fomba For His Dedicated Service

Recognizing Kelvin Fomba For His Dedicated Service

During the presentation of the Permaculture Design Certificates on January 16, Rev. Samuel Enders of the African Dream Academy paused to recognize Kelvin Fomba, UDS Co-Founder & Director. Rev. Enders acknowledged Kelvin’s dedicated service to educating and training of Liberian Youth. He started by highlighting Kelvin’s commitment and sacrifice to ensure the doors are open each day. 

Please listen to the video below as Rev. Enders expresses the gratitude of everyone present. About 10 seconds in he says, “There are people in this country that have more money than you. But you see the good in you and you choose to give it out.” He then gives Kelvin a blessing for his great work.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVZ1WsUqZpY[/embedyt]

Two New Computers for UDS Training Lab

Two New Computers for UDS Training Lab

Our heartfelt Thanks to our long-standing supporter, Julie B. from Oklahoma! She gave a generous donation of $500 during our Give to the Max Day and selected to purchase two computers from our Become a Classroom Hero donation page.

Earlier this month (January 2019), we purchased two new used desktops for our computer training lab. As a result of Julie’s generosity, our computer lab continues to benefit the Liberian Youth taking our most popular course.

Thank you so much, Julie, for these two beautiful computers!

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!