guineabissau

Deusa's WAVS story: How her education gave her new opportunities and hope.

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Deusa was nervous. It was her first day at the WAVS School’s computer basics class and she wasn’t even sure how to hold a computer mouse. But she was confident that she would learn.

After all, her friends who graduated from the WAVS School were now able to speak English, conduct research using the Internet, and create PowerPoint presentations. She imagined how much better she could do her job as a local radio journalist if she, too, had those same skills.

“The reason why I enrolled was because I saw that the students who studied there succeeded and are now using their skills,” Deusa said.

Deusa applying her computer skills

Deusa applying her computer skills

Six months later, Deusa completed her course. A computer mouse no longer intimidated her.

Now, Deusa is able to type up her stories to be read on the radio instead of writing them out by hand. She is also able to search the Internet for news and report it to her community.

And thanks to her new Excel skills, Deusa was also hired to help keep track of a United Nations school-feeding program in surrounding villages. Every day, she collects data from the villages and returns to her office to enter the information into her spreadsheet.

“The skills I learned are helping me a lot,” Deusa said. “It’s very important to have this school here. It’s a blessing.”

The education that Deusa received at the WAVS School has given her new opportunities and hope. This holiday season, we invite you to give students, like Deusa, the same opportunity. Help us 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. Help raise $10,000 before the end of December 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.

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Welding - A Heartfelt Desire

By: Brian Granse

I was called by God to join the team that went to Guinea Bissau in February 2017. This trip was my very first time overseas. God placed the WAVS School, out of the other exposure trip opportunities, as a special interest to me. I suppose part of that reason is that it’s a vocational school that offers welding as one of its main courses. 

Doing some welding in the WAVS Shop 

Welding was my heartfelt desire that I first became aware of in high school, and now I have been working in manufacturing for 22 years as a welder. With that said, and having my manufacturing skills/experience, I was really impressed with the equipment resources that are present in the welding and machine shop at the WAVS school. I really wasn’t expecting to see that type of equipment available for the students to learn from! While I toured the welding department I remember saying a few times that I don’t even have such a nice mig welder of my own, and that you can’t even find what they have at Home Depot (and Home Depot has some nice machines). The machine shop in the welding department was truly outfitted to be able to manufacture anything from steel that could possibly be needed, whether it’s of thin or thick steel! Again the available equipment is beyond what I had expected. Any student that has the opportunity to attend this school is blessed. It was also comforting to witness safety being used, for instance PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) from the instructors and students. Things like safety glasses, gloves and earplugs were all in use!

Helping to install some security gates with the welding students

The staff of the school was another standout for me. I did attend a few of the English classes where I learned how well Mario (a native to that area and a WAVS teacher) spoke.  He was very fluent in English.  No joke, even I could learn some things about English in his classroom (Don’t tell anyone, but I felt exposed. haha!)

Drawing near to our departure from Africa we got to tour Bissau.  It was really cool to see the land where the new WAVS campus will be.  It’s about 40 miles from the current WAVS school.  Before visiting the land, we had the chance to meet and be shown around a private university that is about a mile away from the new school site. It was a very friendly interaction from the university’s director and he even went with us to the new WAVS school site. These two schools will compliment each other with the courses available.

All in all, during the two weeks of exposure from landing in Dakar to leaving Africa our team was very well taken care of by a strong team that is composed of from the WAVS staff, and other missionaries.  They are just super great people.

I will be a contributor to the workings and financial support of this school over the long run.

I am looking forward to another trip.

English Conversation Club

Hurry Up & Wait

By Riley Endicott - Communications Director & Missions Pastor at Northwest Church

Hurry up and wait. If you have been around the world of video production and film-making for any amount of time, it’s a phrase that you will likely hear over and over. Ironically, it’s also a phrase that probably describes a lot of exposure trips and short-term mission trips. Hurry up and get to the next place, task, or meeting, wait for it to start, then repeat. It’s a phrase, that for better or worse, I had embraced as a motto, until recently.

Riley surrounded by children in the community of Canchungo, where the WAVS school is located, as he is about to fly a drone.

I had the opportunity to visit Guinea-Bissau this February to produce some video content for West African Vocational Schools on an exposure trip with my church, Northwest, and The Well Community Church. Having worked in video production for the last five years I have had the opportunity to do a lot of travel and my experience in Guinea-Bissau is definitely at the top of my list. Not because the country was beautiful, the people welcoming, and school’s program high quality (which is all very true!), but because of what the people I met there taught me about my idea of time. They taught me that my concept of hurrying up in order to wait is not always the most fruitful.

The conversation that sticks out in my mind the most was with Lili, the school’s Vice Director. He explained to me that time is a limitless resource. No matter what we do, there will always be 24 hours in the day. And because it’s a limitless resource, we should first use it on what matters most: people and relationships. He explained this to me as I was in the middle of setting up my tripod for the next interview I was about to do. I was trying to be efficient with my time. I was talking with him while working on my next task, but in reality I was actually only giving him about half the attention he deserved.

Interviewing Lili, the WAVS school Vice Director

Equipping and empowering a community is a hard thing to do. It requires a lot of courage and imagination and it also requires the ability to listen and invest in long lasting relationships. All of these things require time and patience. In the United States, success is measured by how efficient one can be with their time. How many tasks and appointments can be completed within a work day. More productivity means more profit. Time is money and money, as we know, is a limited resource. Equipping and empowering our communities aren’t something that really come from being efficient and it rarely comes from financial resources alone. But these paradigms don’t always exist in a country like Guinea-Bissau. With a team full of people who are courageous, imaginative, patient and willing to truly invest their time in others, it makes sense that WAVS exists there and is helping to empower and equip its community.

When time is a limitless resource to be used to invest in people the possibilities are endless. I’m grateful for Lili and the people at WAVS who taught me this. I’m excited to see what the future holds for Guinea-Bissau and how WAVS will leave its mark on the country. I’m also hopeful that a little bit of Guinea-Bissau will have rubbed off on me so that I can slow down and invest rather than always hurrying up and waiting.

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.