Category Archives: Graduate Stories

‘None of us are professors, secretaries or doctors – but I thank God for the profession he’s given us.’

Cirilo grew up in a country where most people live on less than $2 a day. As a kid, he dreamed about becoming a doctor or lawyer. With a career like that, he thought, he’d leave his life of poverty behind. Now as an adult, Cirilo shows up to work every day ready to direct […]

How vocational training helped this welder grow his business in West Africa

Welding students from the WAVS School

Ciro (right) and his former apprentice, Nilton (left), smile as they show off their welding workshop in West Africa. Ciro attended the WAVS Vocational School so he could grow his business and provide for four orphaned children. For years, Ciro Gomes earned a meager living as an auto body repairman — patching up old cars […]

To escape poverty, this West African trained at a vocational school to become a welder

Sergio has overcome poverty through working as a welder.

How job-skills training is a long-term solution to poverty How do you help a young man like Sergio, who grew up in one of the world’s poorest countries? Handouts like free food and clothing are quick and easy ways to give to the poor. But they also create dependency and aren’t long-term solutions to poverty. […]

A vocational school graduate shows that overcoming poverty is complicated, but not impossible

WAVS Graduate Erickson

After graduating from the WAVS Vocational School’s welding program, Erickson Sanhá was ready to set up his own shop. But without start-up capital, how would he buy tools and supplies? And without a power grid in town, where would he get electricity and space to work? And without business experience, how would he know how […]

For this future leader in Guinea-Bissau, life is ‘Fantastic!’

WAVS graduate Vasco

How Vasco’s training at the WAVS School is helping him become one of Guinea-Bissau’s future leaders Poverty. Corruption. Government dysfunction. The woes of West Africa add up. But when you meet Vasco Iala, suddenly the future doesn’t seem so bleak. Ask Vasco how he’s doing and he’ll give you the same answer every time: “Fantastic!” […]

WAVS graduate: ‘God has given me the power to be a welder’

Nilton, a WAVS School Welding Graduate, is now ready to open his own shop. For seven years, Nilton Gomes worked as an apprentice at a small welding shop. But he was mostly given odd-jobs and didn’t receive much real training. At this rate, Nilton knew he would never be ready to start his own shop. So in October 2016, […]

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

Rumario WAVS Welding Graduate

How learning welding skills can provide for a whole family in West Africa 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 […]

Rosa: This high school student worked in a rock quarry so she could afford English classes. Now she’s a teacher.

Rosa English Graduate

I sat next to Rosa on the veranda of her family home – a home made out of mud bricks that she and her family had dug out of the earth around them and were later hardened under the unrelenting sun. Her mother sat nearby, her coarse hands revealing a woman no stranger to physical […]

Bruno’s dreams evolve with his vocational education from the WAVS School.

WAVS Graduate Auto Mechanics

In West Africa, a vocational education can make dreams a reality. As a little boy in Guinea-Bissau, Bruno would sit in class daydreaming of one day becoming a famous soccer player like the ones pictured on the front of a notebook he brought to school every day.  But when he would get home, Bruno’s mom […]

Fatherhood awaits ‘Papa.’ But how will he provide for his family?

Thanks to the opportunity Papa received to study welding at the WAVS School, and a lot of hard work and determination, he now has his own shop PELUNDO, GUINEA-BISSAU – He’s gone by the name “Papa” his whole life, but soon he’ll be a father for the first time. Papa Mendes, 32, and his wife […]

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