BusinessDay

A look at Slum Art Foundation’s pet bottle-built school for slum kids

While many children living in good neighborhoods across the country enjoy comfort, especially the privilege of studying in good learning environments, some others whose parents cannot afford such convenience make do with inconvenience or drop out of school.

To ensure that this category of students goes to school, finishes at all costs, nurse ambitions, and pursues their ambitions, Slum Art Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, commenced many educational and empowerment projects, especially targeted at slums and areas where education is a luxury for children.

One of such projects is the polyethene terephthalate (P.E.T) bottle-built schools and on April 28, 2022, Slum Art Foundation proudly unveiled its first pet bottle-built school for slum kids at Ijora Badia community in Lagos State.

Erected in 2019, the school is Nigeria’s first pet bottle- built school, which provides access to learning, mentorship, and training in a creatively conducive environment to underserved children in Nigeria, starting from Ijora Badia community. The building project was funded by World Connect, a global initiative that invests directly in the ideas of local leaders to drive self-sustaining development in their communities. As well, the funding has encouraged Slum Art Foundation to continue shaping a new set of young art enthusiasts.

Speaking at the unveiling of the school, Vanessa Adebayo, Nigerian programme officer for World Connect, noted that, “This project is an application we received last year during our grant cycle in July. What they proposed was to build a pet bottle slum art school and they wanted to empower the students within the Ijora Badia community to be able to learn, and more importantly, have the ability to dream; dream through art, through vocational skills, and through learning and to understand that despite the challenges of their environment, there is still creativity and knowledge and that the sky is their limit, if they can dream it, they can achieve it.”

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She noted that World Connect partnered with the foundation; especially by funding the project in order to enable the Slum Art Foundation to bring education to the doorsteps of the underserved children and to continue shaping a new set of young art enthusiasts.

“We are a donor organization that provides grass-roots communities with funding to be able to implement projects for the community. So, the traditional problems they are dealing with are addressed and the difference with our funding to organizations to communities is that instead of pushing our agenda, we give it to the community to provide solutions to problems they know are directly affecting them within their spaces,” she explained.

Speaking on the empowerment aspect of the school, she disclosed that some established artists are engaged to mentor the children in arts, craft and other creative vocations, and that they end up creating enthralling works with their young and gifted hands.

“I feel amazing that my organization can be part of this project, to be able to fund it and to be able to see it operational. There is no better feeling”, she concluded. Excited at the unveiling of the school and a dream come true for him, Adetunwase Adenle Adetunwase, co-founder of the school, expressed his excitement about completing the school building project for the community. “The school will provide a safe-haven for children to enjoy the experience of learning art in a safe space”, he assured at the unveiling ceremony.

Speaking further on the project, Adetunwase said that he wanted to use pet bottles as the medium for the project to support the World Connect initiative, noting that without World Connect’s financial support for the building project, Slum Art would not be able to provide the much needed access to art education for the Ijora Badia community.

“The school launch brings relief for the tutors and children of the community as it comes during the rainy season. This space provides shelter, where learning can continue regardless of the weather. This space will help to ensure the continued success of the community,” the co-founder said.

On the rationale behind the use of plastic bottles in the construction of the school, he explained that it was to showcase the possibilities of artistic use of waste materials. “By reusing waste as a medium for art, the Slum Art Foundation is helping reduce the impact pollution has on the environment. This also teaches the students how they can be agents of change within their own community”, he said.

Commending World Connect for tits good gesture and calling for more support for the NGO in providing services to humanity, Adetunwase thanked First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and Oluwaseun Dania International Foundation for their great support in the community development and empower young people within Ijora Badia community.

Adetunwase is one of the Slum Art Foundation’s founders, other founders include; Monika Cilmi, an Italian UK based artist and Pedro Oliveira Jr, an America based citizen helping the homeless get accommodation.

The school hosts pupils from zero to 5 years, with students between 11 to 15 years in another place.

It was built with roughly 1.5 tons or 18,500 pet bottles.

Of course, the students expressed their joy over the unveiling of the school with an exhibition of artworks they made, including paintings.

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