July 21, 2019 | 83° F

Rutgers alumnus establishes non-profit vocational school in Ghana

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Paul Rando, a Rutgers graduate decided to coordinate with the non-profit Trade-ing Up to create a school in Yeji, Ghana where students can learn important vocational skills. Rando is working to raise awareness of the project while encouraging donations for the Sponsor-a-Student program.

A Rutgers alumnus is working with his team to better the lives of people abroad.

Paul Rando graduated Rutgers in 2015 and has since joined Kyle Wiese and Brandon McGee, the founders of the nonprofit Trade-ing Up, to create a vocational school in Yeji, Ghana for students there to learn valuable trades affordably.

Rando, McGee and Wiese met through disaster relief volunteering with All Hands Volunteers in Louisiana. McGee originally hatched the idea when he was working on starting a goat farm in Zambia and saw a need for increased vocational education.

The first year of instruction for Trade-ing Up will begin in February of 2018 and will aim to provide holistic empowerment from the bottom up through vocational education and provide the certifications required to become an active member of the local workforce and economy, according to a press release.

As fundraising manager for Trade-ing Up, Rando’s job is to spread the word about the organization and encourage people to donate in support of their Sponsor-a-Student program, which can put a Ghanaian student through their trade school for only about $368.

These trade schools are particularly important because things like dressmaking and carpentry are of particularly high value in Ghana, Rando said.

“Based on our calculations and (Brandon McGee and Kyle Wiese’s) experience in Ghana, we have figured out that it is $368 for a student there to complete their entire education, which was pretty mind-blowing because it is exuberantly more than that here in the States,” he said. “People are giving these multi-million dollar endowments to schools in the States when for a dollar a day they can fund one student’s entire education in Ghana.”

The $368 would pay for the apprenticeship fees, school supplies, uniforms and sewing machines, as well as a meal every day, which Rando said is one of the more important aspects of the program.

“We want to be able to relieve some of the food stress that the more impoverished students have had. Instead of worrying where they’re going to get their next meal, they know they’ll have a meal at school and they can pay attention to the lessons and get a more wholesome education,” he said.

Rando said that is it important for people to know that there is a place in the world where a person can get an entire trade education that has the ability to pave the way toward a valuable career for such a low price.

“Personally, I went to Rutgers. I got a bachelor’s in English for too much money, and it didn’t really pave the way towards a career,” he said. “Now that’s partially my fault, but it astounds me that people can get their whole life taken care of for a dollar a day.”

Rando encourages students to help in any way they can, such as by asking small businesses to help out or telling their friends and family about it.

Kyle Wiese, one of the founders of the organization, said the main goal is to create a sustainable system for young adults in rural Ghana and allow them to have access to trade educations that they normally would not.

Normally, Ghanaian students would require two to three years of instruction in an apprenticeship master program for the same trades that Trade-ing Up offers, but with the organization’s help, they can complete their certification in just one year as full-time students.

“The biggest thing is that (the Ghanaian villagers) are really smart and capable people too, and if you found out that someone in America could get a really important and really valuable education for $368, people would jump on the chance,” Wiese said.

Wiese said that it is important for students to realize that the Ghanaian students are people just like them.

People who wish to donate to the cause can go to their website at Trade-ingUp.org.

“They have doctors and lawyers, but it is rural Africa, and for them, they need a carpenter, a seamstress, because that’s just the day to day thing, that’s where all the business comes from,” Wiese said. “If we went in there and taught people to be nuclear physicists, that’s great, but it doesn’t help the village that they’re living in right now and we want to help them grow where they’re at.”

Stephen Weiss

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