Inauguration of Humanity First Vocational and Technical Training Institute in Liberia, West Africa

Humanity First Vocational and Technical Training Institute (HF-VTTI) began its first session on 3rd October 2011 in Monrovia, Liberia. Feasibility of the institute was undertaken in 2009 and since then,different options for the human resources, equipment and locations were thoroughly studied.P1000335 It was a strenuous process because all human resource and equipment requirements of the institute had to be imported from abroad due to non availability of such resources locally. In 2011, a property was leased for the institute in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, equipment was shipped and the Principal of the Institute, along with four highly trained instructors arrived from Pakistan. All the team members are well known renowned professional in their respective fields and have worked with renowned industries and technical training centers in Pakistan, Japan and the Middle East.

DSC08846The idea for this institute first came from the Republic of Liberia's Vice President, His Excellency Dr. Joseph N. Boakai. His Excellency raised the issue of lack of skilled trainers, and vocational and technical education in Liberia on several occasions during meetings with Humanity First (HF) leadership. Skilled labor plays a vital role in the development of any nation and HF stepped forward to play its part in a country that is recouping from the horrors of almost fifteen years of civil war.

Opening Ceremony of the Institute:

DSC08842Due to his personal interest in the project, the Vice President graciously agreed to join the official opening of the institute on 24 November 2011, as “chief guest and keynote speaker” for the occasion. More than twenty dignitaries including the Honorary Consul General of India, Mr. Upjit Singh Sachdeva, Commanding Officer of Pakistan Army’s UN Peacekeeping Force in Monrovia, Lt. Col. Shafique Ahmad and Liberian government officials attended the ceremony. Mr. Waleed Khan from the USA joined the opening ceremony as a representative of Humanity First USA and a guest speaker.

In his remarks, the Vice President mentioned his pleasure and gratefulness on the start of the institute. He articulately went over some of the key needs of the Liberian Economy and how this institute will contribute towards them. The Vice President stated ,

"The Liberian government believes that everyone benefits when we invest in education. Education transforms the individual lives, empowering people to pursue their dream of a better life and expand their human potential."

He further mentioned some of the key areas including Health and Poverty Alleviation where Liberia needs to improve and is looking forward to partner organizations for help in this regard. At the end, the Vice President advised the students that HF has established an institute where they can learn from highly qualified instructors, it is now their responsibility to take advantage of this opportunity. After the first session, the Vice President took a tour of the institute along with the staff members and the students. He visited all the sections and was briefed by the staff members on the courses offered. In each section, the students demonstrated their work and answered different questions asked by the guests.

Humanity First Vocational and Technical Training Institute (HF-VTTI):

P1000321The institute is equipped with several mechanical workshops and practical labs. 216 students are currently enrolled in nine trades that offer six months diploma courses in the morning and evening sessions. The institute has approached several industries for job placements and to arrange internships for its graduates. The industry response is overwhelming due to the prestige of Humanity First for charitable causes in Liberia. Keeping the spirit of Humanity First volunteering and to get hands on experience, students of HF-VTTI have started providing free services to public service institutions. In one such example, the students of ‘Building and Industrial Electrician Course’ provided free services to an under construction school, ‘ShahTaj Elementary & Junior High School’ in Monrovia, which will benefit over five hundred students for the years to come. In another instance, Director of the Technical Education Center of Ministry of Education approached our institute seeking help with fixing some of their mechanical equipment. HF-VTTI staff and students provided on site volunteer services and fixed the equipment that will contribute towards uninterrupted learning of over three hundred students of the government’s institute. The management of the institute and students in all trades are committed towards rebuilding of Liberia through their expert and volunteer services.

P1000351HF-VTTI has introduced many new ideas that were unknown to Liberian skilled community including quality repair of certain parts of automobiles, refrigerators, air conditioners, or plumbing, that were replaced in the past and was a huge financial burden on many impoverished families. Experts in many trades from around the country are coming to HF-VTTI to get demos on these techniques and to learn them without any cost.

The institute is also putting special emphasis on developing entrepreneurial skills among the students. The institute encourages its students to market the products that they are manufacturing in workshops and lab sessions, like brick blocks for construction, electrical circuit boards, plumbing systems, repair of auto parts etc. Due to the innovative curriculum and unique skill set offered by the expert trainers of the institute, four instructors from other technical training centers also joined VTTI as students in the first session. In addition, many students of engineering disciplines at University of Liberia are also studying at VTTI. Keeping in view the response of the students, local communities and support of the Government of Liberia, Humanity First is working on further extension of the classrooms/lab spaces and courses offered for its coming sessions in 2012.

Faculty and the courses offered at HF-VTTI:

1. Mr. Hafeez Ur Rahman, Principal:

Refrigerator & Air condition

2. Mr. Manzoor Naeem, Instructor:

Auto Mechanic & Auto Electrician

3. Mr. Munir Bhatti, Instructor:

Machinist, Welding & Brazing;

4. Mr. Waheed Barlas, Instructor:

Plumbing, Mason & Steel Fixer;

5. Mr. Muzaffar Ahmed, Instructor:

Building Electrician & Industrial Electrician