West African Vocational Schools

Despite resistance from his family, Ronaldo is pursuing an education — and his faith.

Ronaldo (left) with some of his friends at the WAVS School. 

Ronaldo (left) with some of his friends at the WAVS School. 

Ronaldo grew up in a small village called Tame. A few times each day, a truck rolls through the village on the dusty road that serves as the community’s only lifeline to the outside world. If you can catch a ride, a bumpy journey through the forest takes you to the town of  Canchungo.

Ronaldo made that trip when he was 16 so he could attend high school in Canchungo. After enrolling, he heard about the WAVS School – the only school in Canchungo providing job-skills training – and he signed up for its computer basics class. He enjoyed the class so much, that he also enrolled in the school’s English class.
Ronaldo has had to work hard to keep up his studies at both his high school and the WAVS School. His mother didn’t go to school and doesn’t understand why he’s enrolled in so many classes.


“The best thing about the school is the skills I am learning. I can use these skills throughout the rest of my life.” - Ronaldo, WAVS School student

“It’s still difficult to convince my mother of the importance of school,” Ronaldo said.  His family has also resisted Ronaldo’s decision to become a Christian. Some have even threatened him if he doesn’t renounce his faith. But with the support and encouragement from staff and students at the WAVS School, Ronaldo continues to hold firm in his decision to follow Christ. 

Now a level 3 student in the English program, Ronaldo is quickly becoming a fluent English speaker with the help of his teachers. He said that the English classes at the WAVS School, which are two hours each day, are much more effective than his high school English classes, which were 45 minutes twice a week and lacked the quality of teaching and materials available at the WAVS School.

In the future, Ronaldo wants to go to the capital city, Bissau, to study to become a lawyer.

“The best thing about the school is the skills I am learning,” he said. “I can use these skills throughout the rest of my life.”

We invite you to give more students like Ronaldo the Gift of Education with a year-end, tax-deductible gift. This gift will help train 100 students with life-changing job skills in the first semester of 2018.

Each student pays tuition for the courses they take, but this only covers about 25% of the total cost each semester. The remainder of the costs are covered by generous donors like you. Help us raise $10,000 by December 31 to cover the remaining costs of the courses for these dedicated students. Any amount you give will help reach this goal!

Give the Gift of Education.

Give Opportunity. Give Hope.

 

A few of the welding department's favorite things: church benches, roofs, security gates

A significant advantage for the students in the welding program at the WAVS School is that they get practical, hands-on welding experience in addition to their classroom instruction. The school is often hired by businesses and residents in the community to do projects for them. This real-life experience teaches students the value of doing quality work and allows them to hone their skills for future employment. The revenue from the work also helps offset the cost of the program since the students' tuition only covers about 25% of the total cost of the program.

This last semester, the welding program was very busy with projects! Even with classes for this semester now complete, many students have chosen to come to the school while on vacation so they can continue working because there are still projects to be completed!

Here are just a few of the projects that have been completed or are in progress from this semester:

  • Church Benches: These benches were made for a church in Cadjens, a small village about 30 minutes outside Canchungo. 

  • Security Gates: This is one of the most popular and common items that the students build. They are used to cover windows so they can be left open at night, enclose verandas so that these open-air porches are secure or build a fence around a house or compound. This specific gate was for a woman in the community named Ines, that everyone calls Dona Ines, which means Grandma Ines. 

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  • Roof for local agriculture co-op: The roof was part of a project to build a cashew drying warehouse that was built just down the road from the school at a local co-op called COAJOQ. The project was commissioned by Steves JC, a large engineering company that is also building the new parking complex at the national airport.  Steves JC commissioned these same cashew drying warehouses in different regions around the country. The WAVS School was the last contractor to get a contract, but was able to finish the roof faster than the other four roof contractors. The Steves JC foreman said that the roof the WAVS students built was the best in quality.

This holiday season, you can help equip more welding students with life-changing job skills. We invite you to give the Gift of Education with a year-end tax-deductible gift. This gift will help train 100 students in the first semester of 2018.

Each student pays tuition for the courses they take, but it only covers 25% of the total cost. The remainder of the costs are covered by generous donors like you. Help us raise $10,000 by December 31st to cover the remaining costs of the courses for these dedicated students. Any amount you give will help reach this goal!

Give the gift of Education.

Give Opportunity. Give Hope.

Making a Difference

By Jeff Kollenkark

The WAVS School Director, Lili, and me on my last day in Canchungo

I was given the opportunity to join a small group visiting the WAVS School in Guinea-Bissau for 2 weeks in February.  This was something special that I could not pass up as I was familiar with the work of this Christian outreach through encounters at Rotary, The Well Community Church and at their fundraiser banquet last October.  I wanted to experience the school and people first hand. The school is transforming a struggling nation one person at a time through education and vocational training in areas such as computer basics, welding, auto mechanics, sewing, English, and French.  They are also partnering with other organizations in the country by training teams that can instill healthier living through repairing abandoned water pumps and installing simple latrines.   

Guinea-Bissau was unlike anything I have ever experienced.  The days were full of new sights, new smells, new foods, new people, and a new language.  All my senses were firing at once.  I don’t think that I can explain the impact or experience in words.  The country has great needs with high poverty and a fairly broken infrastructure as seen by the lack of good roads, sporadic electrical grid, compromised water sources, inferior healthcare, and limited opportunities to progress forward.  

Above: in a local market with a fellow visitor

Below: learning basic Creole with the rest of my team in our first days in Guinea Bissau

The school is a beacon of light there providing several means to better oneself and the remote community of Canchungo.  The teachers love their job and their students and believe that they can make a difference over time in peoples’ lives both spiritually and physically by providing knowledge and skills that last a lifetime.  I was greatly encouraged and honored to be able to participate in the English and conversation classes.  

Steps are being taken now to establish a new campus just outside of the capital city, Bissau, on roughly 20 acres.  This will have the ability to impact around 1,200 people a year and add new disciplines like agriculture.  The country has a huge potential to grow more of their own food and increase exports through introducing new methods and export standards. I loved talking to the students and listening to their dreams to be a doctor, lawyer, pro soccer player, teacher, farmer and so on.  They see Americans as caring and loving people and would love to come to school here, the best country in the world.  The prospect of coming to the US is not good with the difficulty of getting a Visa to come here from Guinea-Bissau.

Above: With the students from the Beginner English class we participated in.

Below: Building relationships with Quidam Sau, one of the staff at the WAVS School, and his family.

Life is much more difficult for the people of Guinea-Bissau, but they are generally happy people that love others and love to socialize.  Their dreams and aspirations are much the same as ours. Their pace of life is slower and relationships are very important.  I like that part very much.  Upon returning to Fresno, I am thankful for our freedoms, our abundance of fresh safe food and water, reliable transportation, and the comforts of heating and air conditioning.  Believe it or not, our roads and drivers are much better here at home.