A nearly forgotten corner of the world

WAVS vocational schools operate in a tiny country in West Africa called Guinea-Bissau. It’s a place where most people live off less than $2 a day.

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But for nearly 2 million people, Guinea-Bissau is home. Unfortunately, their home faces difficult challenges: crippling poverty, a lack of basic education services, and few resources to help aspiring entrepreneurs.

Because Guinea-Bissau is so small and undeveloped, many large organizations have chosen to focus their efforts elsewhere (including global nonprofits like World Vision and Compassion International, and government agencies like USAID). For this reason, WAVS has started its work here – a nearly forgotten corner of the world.

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Guinea Bissau map
Proud graduate of WAVS Welding program

“I just want to work. I want to use what I’ve learned. I don’t want to have my diploma just sitting there. I want to use my skills.”

– João, WAVS Welding Graduate (see his story)

A practical solution: hands-on skills training

The schools equip more than 200 students each year with life-changing job skills. In addition, WAVS provides its graduates with basic tool kits so that they can start their own businesses.

One year after completing their training, three out of four WAVS graduates have either found a job, started their own business, or are furthering their education elsewhere (usually at a university).

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In addition, most graduates report a significant increase in their income. This has an impact not just on their own lives, but on their whole family. That’s because the average family in Guinea-Bissau has seven people and only one primary income earner.

We believe that people living in poverty are ready and able to work for a brighter future. They don’t need a handout – they need an opportunity.

And job skills training creates opportunity. It activates human potential. It bridges the gap between poverty and self-sufficiency. Its impact lasts a lifetime.

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Building authentic relationships

Local teachers at the WAVS schools build authentic relationships with students and share a simple message: Jesus changes everything in life – how we work, live and love others.

In classes at the WAVS schools, local teachers facilitate discussions about life and faith. Often, they’ll share the story of how they got to know Jesus and the reason He gives them hope.

English class at West African Vocational Schools

Locally led vocational schools

WAVS hires local teachers and administrators to run its vocational schools. We know they care the most about making a difference in their own communities. And because the school staff are committed to developing sustainable programs, they utilize best practices for financial reporting and management.

Students also play a role. They are required to pay an affordable tuition fee to show that they are committed to their education. Their tuition helps cover part of the costs of their training. Monthly donors in the One Student community cover the rest.

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In addition, the schools generate revenue by charging customers for production work (such as welding projects) while simultaneously giving their students real-world training opportunities.

We’re an organization that invests in long-term solutions instead of attempting quick fixes. We’re focused on gradually building relationships of trust, which create a foundation for establishing vocational schools that stand the test of time.

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Computer Student

Courses offered at WAVS vocational schools

One Student

Give opportunity. One student at a time.

The One Student community is a group of donors who help keep tuition affordable for students at WAVS vocational schools. One Student members give monthly to help train one student at a time by covering the cost of teachers’ salaries, textbooks, training tools, and new classroom construction.

One Student members receive quarterly impact reports in their inbox with personalized data, including the number of students they have helped train. Members also have access to The Yearbook which is updated with the latest behind-the-scenes stories, photos and videos from the WAVS schools.

Join One Student

An opportunity to grow.

In the last decade, WAVS vocational schools have equipped more than 1,300 young men and women with life-changing job skills. But that is just the beginning.

A new campus is now under construction in the capital of Guinea-Bissau. Once complete, it will train more than 1,000 students a year – all while sharing God’s love through word and deed.

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Bissau campus plan in West Africa