Welding

Rumario: To provide for his ailing uncle and 8 others in his family, this young man became a welder.

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Rumario started out welding like most other young people in Guinea-Bissau who want to learn a trade skill: He found someone who’s already working, and watched and learned. In West Africa, these informal internships are common. But they have many shortcomings, including inconsistent quality and a lack of tools to practice with.

Rumario’s extended family of nine people – including an ill uncle – were relying on him to provide for them, and the internship wasn’t cutting it. Rumario knew he could do better.

One day, he came across a local welder named Papa Mendes who was doing impressive work. Papa told him that he had learned how to weld at West African Vocational Schools (WAVS). So Rumario enrolled in the nine-month course at the WAVS School. He worked weekends and evenings to pay for his tuition. And thanks to WAVS Teacher Sponsors who help cover the cost of the welding course, the fees were affordable for Rumario – less than $10/month.

The training was exactly what Rumario needed. After graduating in 2016, he opened up a makeshift workshop.

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“I have a lot of work now that I have graduated and have the skills and tools to do good work,” Rumario said while showing off his shop. “Before, I worked for others and got very little money. Now, I am doing my own jobs!” 

Rumario said the quality of his work has improved dramatically.

“Before my WAVS course, I just welded, but didn’t know how to check the quality of my welds,” he said. “At the school, I learned to check the quality of my welds to see if they are good, and if not, how to fix them.” 

His clients have noticed the difference.

“They come to me to do their work because they see that I do quality work,” Rumario said.

Rumario also benefited from the WAVS New Entrepreneur’s Program (NEP), which allowed him to purchase new tools at a discounted price. He said the tools have helped improve the quality of his work and attracted more clients.

Rumario shares his adobe brick workshop with a local carpenter. It sits on a main road next to the town’s transit center. He pays for his share of the electricity to run a generator. With the steady income from his workshop, Rumario and his brother, a mechanic, are now able to provide for their extended family.

“WAVS gave me the training and experience I needed to be confident enough to take any job related to welding and do it,” Rumario said. “Now I have the courage to do any job I want to do.”  

And Rumario doesn’t want to stop here.

“I’ve learned a lot, but my dream is to learn more,” he said.

This article was written by Holly Collins, WAVS Board Adviser.

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Each student pays tuition for the courses they take, but this only covers about 25% of the total cost. The remainder of the costs are covered by generous donors like you. By sponsoring a teacher at the WAVS School, you help cover the costs of the teacher's department and open up new opportunities in life for young people like Rumario.

Meet Cirilo. Teacher by Day, Musician by Night.

By Jenna Harvey, Director of International Development

Cirilo doesn’t sit still. Although class starts at 8 a.m., you will often find him at the WAVS School around 7 a.m., preparing for his work as the school’s lead welding instructor. And the day job isn’t enough. Cirilo is also a musician with a growing fan base.

Cirilo's album release and concert flier.

Cirilo's album release and concert flier.

Earlier this year, he released his first album, Ña Deus Obrigadu (Thank you, My Lord), and held an album release party at the WAVS School in Canchungo with more than 600 people in attendance from the surrounding towns and villages.  Some in the crowd even came from the capital, Bissau, more than an hour and a half away. Cirilo also performed at the 2017 WAVS school graduation ceremony in January.  

His music and work ethic reflect his desire to impact his students’ lives – both through skills development and spiritual growth.

Cirilo's album launch and concert celebration at the WAVS school campus.

Cirilo's album launch and concert celebration at the WAVS school campus.

“Our school doesn’t just provide training to improve the lives of students, but it gives life through the proclamation of the Gospel,” Cirilo said.

Cirilo works alongside Amona, a welding assistant teacher at the school, and Jason, the welding program mentor. 

Cirilo started his job in October 2012 when the welding program first began and has helped develop it into the strong program that it is today. He has also helped increase the amount of work that the welding students do for people in the community who pay the school to build doors, windows and security gates. The school earns a small amount of revenue from this work while the students receive the benefit of real-world, hands-on experience. Among hundreds of projects, Cirilo has helped lead the students in the construction of a security gate around a local bank, build a playground at a local primary school and a construct a roof over a water filter factory. 

Before coming to teach at the school, Cirilo studied welding at another vocational school call CIFAP. After graduating in 2006, he worked at a company in Bissau for a few years. He saw the WAVS School while passing it on the road before, but didn’t know much about it.

Cirilo hard at work, digging a trench for the eletrical line to give the Welding department power.

Cirilo hard at work, digging a trench for the eletrical line to give the Welding department power.

One day, his motorcycle broke down not too far from the school and he stayed the night at a local church. The director of the WAVS school had heard about Cirilo through church and started talking to him about coming to start a welding program at the school. At first, Cirilo didn’t want to leave Bissau to come to the school in Canchungo, but the director kept proposing the idea to him over a period of more than two years. After taking to pray about the possibility seriously, he accepted the job because he wanted to work in a Christian environment and knew that the name of Jesus was being proclaimed in the school.  

Cirilo has also pursued his singing career on the side. He has enjoyed singing since he was little, and he later learned to play guitar in church.  While living in Bissau, Cirilo first performed formally in a vocal group called “Vocalistas di Gloria.” After coming to Canchungo to teach at the WAVS School, because of the distance, he had to leave the group.  But because of his love for singing, performing, and writing music as a tool to demonstrate the love of God, he continued to pursue his musical career.  Cirilo wrote most of the songs on his album himself.  Several of the songs are written in Fula, a tribal language spoken in Guinea-Bissau, so that his music could have a broader reach.

The school is grateful it has dedicated teachers, like Cirilo, who are not only providing life-changing job skills to the community of Canchungo, but who are also Jesus’ hands and feet in the community.

Between now and the end of June, we invite you to partner with us so we can train even more students in the welding course. There are two ways you can give:

1) Sponsor a teacher

Before the end of June, we are looking for seven people to help sponsor Cirilo, the lead welding teacher, so we can equip more students with life-changing job skills. As a WAVS Teacher Sponsor, you will receive personal updates from Cirilo about how your investment is impacting him and the lives of his students.

2) Give to the WAVS welding program

You can make a one-time gift of any amount before the end of June to help train more welding students. It costs $500 to equip one student with the skills needed to provide for himself and his family for a lifetime.

Cirilo instructing a student

Cirilo instructing a student