The Vocational Training Center (VTC) at our Refugee Orphan Home was established to meet the need to prepare our young people for a successful, self-reliant future after leaving our full time care at the Home. Founded by director Andy Jones in March 2010 and developed by volunteer Joseph Atkin in July 2010, the VTC offers classes four days a week that: teach income generating skills currently in demand in the informal economies of Ghana and Liberia; produce a product for consumption at the Home or to be sold locally or internationally. Part-time jobs are provided to our teachers who are Liberian refugees living at Buduburam, currently self-employed in their vocation and who support our vision for the future self-reliance of each student. Start up funding was provided by Jan Jones and, with continued funding provided as a regular budget item financed by ongoing orphan sponsorships. These are the classes we currently offer at the VTC:

Commercial Baking (all ages, required)

  • production-scale baking of breads and cakes for consumption at the Home, reduces the amount of bread purchased at retail price in the local market.
  • baked goods can be sold locally on the street or in shops

Cosmetics and Soap Production (12+ years, required)

  • production of laundry detergent, body soap, and household cleaner for use at the Home, reduces the amount of soap purchased at retails price in the local market
  • soap production is a viable self-employment prospect for any of the students when they become adults

Sewing and Tailoring (all ages, required)

  • theoretical and practical training on craft sewing and tailoring clothing, by hand and with hand-crank sewing machines
  • school uniforms and traditional dress suits are made by the children under the direction of their teacher, reducing the cost of required school uniforms

Craft and Art Production (all ages, elective)

  • Crocheting, painting, bracelet assembly, and hand bag sewing are taught, with practical application in making items that can be sold to raise funds to sustain the VTC programs.
  • Students are paid for items they make for export to the US, giving them an opportunity to learn the value of work and to manage their own spending money. Participation is craft production is voluntary.
  • Items are available for sale on our website.
  • Organized and taught primarily by Kathy and Dave Westerby in 2011.

Cultural Performing Arts (all ages, elective)

  • Traditional Liberian drum, dance, and song is taught each week with a view to maintaining a connection to the child’s culture
  • Classes are in preparation for rehearsal and public performance with the Africa Heartwood Project Orphan Culture Troupe.
  • Students gain discipline and confidence as they work hard to present their cultural arts in performance at Buduburam Refugee Camp and in other locations such as churches and public beaches.

Computer Literacy (all ages, required)

  • Each week students are taught computer literacy skills at a local internet cafe.
  • Secure online communication with sponsors allows children to practice composing and typing their weekly message.

Health Orientation (all ages, required)

  • Weekly interactive instruction on how to maintain and improve personal health and hygiene.
  • Working to prevent or reduce the incidence of common diseases such as malaria, typhoid, dysentery, HIV, cholera, and TB.

Civic and Moral Counseling (all ages, required)

  • Weekly group discussions with prominent members of the community who volunteer to counsel the children on moral or civil topics of their choosing
  • Provides exposure to successful individuals who are actively engaged in improving and serving the world around them