It was a cold and rainy day as the team from the African Cleanup Initiative took the RecyclesPay Educational Project to the Makoko Kingdom Royalty Academy.
Unlike the weather we received warm welcomes to the community by the Head Teacher [Mr Aide Benjamin] who was also representing the founder of the Makoko dream initiative [Mr Emmanuel Agunze] and parents who were all eager to learn about how the burden of paying school fees could be taken off their shoulders.
The school which is located in the Makoko community[AKA The Venice of Africa], Yaba Local Government Area of Lagos State was filled with parents whose only means of lively was fishing and other petty trades.
Opening the floor on a prayerful note the head teacher Mr Benjamin admonished the parents on being good representatives of themselves at all times and always strive to do good onto others irrespective of the persons social status or belief.
The communications officer of the African Cleanup Initiative Miss Blessing Martins conveyed the message from the chief environmental officer of the African Cleanup Initiative Mr Alex Akhigbe who said ‘’African Cleanup Initiative is committed to enabling social change through its RecyclesPay Educational Project and other environment friendly initiatives the African Cleanup Initiative was developing to further better the lives of the people most especially the environment, ending on the note that the focus of the project was to ensure the menace of children being out of school in under-served communities was a thing of the past. On her own part Miss Blessing Martins appreciated the parents on taking out the time to listen to ideas that would improve their wards education. She went on to explain what the RecyclesPay project was all about, how it worked and what they stood to gain when the project starts out fully in their under-served community.
She then opened the floor for questions or contributions which gave the parents the opportunity to state some of their fears around how they would get sufficient recyclables and what other members of the community would say when they saw them picking plastics from around the community, the head teacher was quick to respond to both issues, first by pointing out to the fact that a large part of their community was harboring uncountable number of plastics and second telling them that their children’s future was more important than any doubt or shame they had in mind.
The head teacher then explained some of the challenges the school/students were facing, stating that even though the average school fee was set at 50 Naira per day amounting to 3000 Naira for an entire term of three months, a lot of parents still faced difficulties paying the fees, forcing the school to place over 39 students of the total 204 pupils they had on scholarship. He further explained that some teachers were leaving the school because parents were unable to meet up with fees payment which in turn meant teachers were not getting paid or their pay was cut, he proceeded to explain the three faced model they used in paying teachers which was dependent on how much revenue the school was able to acquire through the payment of school fees and personal contributions from the schools management team.
The event which lasted for two hours thirty minutes was brought to a close with a tour round the school; we were shown the newly renovated school hall which was housing five different grades from kindergarten to primary.
We were met by the joyful faces of the students as they treated our ears to the delightful recitation of the 20 local government areas in Lagos state and the multiplication table.
It was indeed a visit that further exposed how significant the RecyclesPay Project was at this time and the lives that were being impacted by the collaborative efforts of The African Cleanup Initiative, her partners, donors and everyone contributing to the success of the project in one way or the other.
On that note we say a big thank you to our partners without whom our efforts would have stifled and further restate the fact that we will not rest on our oars as there still is a mountain load of work to be done, we are forever inspired by the impact we create.