Makoko education fund
We've updated this text from its original, just to give a bit more background and details compared with the initial post.
This past week, the famed Makoko Floating School collapsed and with it, some critique has come out about what it's objectives were and how much impact it actually had. This GoFundMe page is not about a critique, but it is about funding a project we believe to be sustainable, is worthy of funds, and is focused on the educational needs of children, not engage in politics -- as was highlighted by earlier critiques of the Makoko Floating School.
All that aside, we want to focus on a more basic, grass roots approach than the floating school and enable the community to do what they've already taken ownership over rather than building a second 'fancy' structure. The school we want fund will provide education to about 400 children, some of the poorest children in Lagos
Myself, together with some local architects have had a relationship with both Noah Shemede (the Headmaster of the Makoko english school) and the traditional leaders within the community. This has involved, over the past decade, donating funds; donating time; and in some cases, attempting to help with fund raising. We are very comfortable with them as worthy recepients and will work with them to make sure funds are used effectively for the promotion of better basic education.
As a background, first met Noah in 2008 on a 'touristic' visit to the Makoko stilt village and it's newly commissioned school that had been funded by an expat organization in Lagos. The Capex had been funded, but not the Opex. Over the course of about a year, as a curious enthusiast of Africa, I visited the area a number of times and developed a friendship with him. What I saw was remarkable. This individual community leader, on his own, was able to secure funding for teachers internally and get the school (somewhat) functioning. The leadership I saw at that time, and what I've observed since, has always inspired me and in 2009 I began making the small contribution of funding a teacher on a monthly basis.
The quality of education could always be improved, but it was a start -- and more important than anything -- the school and it's approach was a vehicle that put the inspirational value of education in a community where there were limited venues -- particularly for english language schools, Nigeria's official language.
For a next stage of that project, what we felt was needed at the time, was an extension to the non-floating english school. The school needed more space to accomodate the students that wanted to enroll as well as have a better pipeline of operations funding.
8 years later, after so much international attention, that basic need is still there as the school that was built instead and received the community buy in, has now collapsed because it was apparently only a 'prototype'.
So here is what we are proposing:
Let's raise $50,000 Canadian Dollars (I'm only allowed to collect on GoFundMe in Canadian dollars as I am Canadian) which is a little over $40,000 USD. Based on requests we've already received, we will also reduce the target as we collect Naira Donations here in Lagos -- see Note II at the bottom for more details.
I, together with some friends of the community here in Lagos, will commit to overseeing the following:
First, we will spend the first ~$15,000 US or so on getting the existing (non-floating) english school in the community into better working condition, and building an extension to accomodate the students that are already enrolled in the school but lack adequate classroom space for.
Second, we will take any additional monies we receive to fund operational needs of the school for as long as this seed funding lasts. This will include, teachers, books, and any other basics that improve the quality of education at the school.
The community is ready and has the space to build an extension to their existing school in the next 6 months! The framework for improving the quality and effectiveness of the school will be developed before any funds are spent. But the bottom line -- contributions will go to help 400 kids get the primary education they so desperately need.
We, as professionals living in Lagos, will stay with this for as long as it's needed (and raise more funds from ourselves and externally) to make sure that the core objective of improving the quality of education for a community that is among one of the poorest in Lagos.
This means a lot to me, because I went to Makoko this past week and while I was there I was reminded about how much the school means to Noah who has spent the last 10 years of his life working for his community. I studied an undergraduate degree in Public Policy and Development Studies and later did a masters at Oxford in African Studies and have lived and worked in sub-Saharan Africa for most of the past decade. Most of my friends that are keen to help in Lagos are Nigerians with expertise in the construction and architectural sector, some with years of more hands on experience in the community. We're ready and well equipped to oversee a successful set of improvements for the community.
Noah and his community will be very grateful for donations (HOWEVER SMALL) to go towards this project that he's been running long before the concept of a Floating School ever came to be. It will enable him provide more basic education to the children who so desperately need it.
Look around the internet and you can educate yourself about the story of Makoko and the school, the community, it's legal status and decide whether or not you think this is a worthy cause for yourself.
What do you get?
You get to play a part in providing basic education to some of Lagos's poorest kids that need it most and provide an emotional boost for a group of people that feel quite let down by the situation they've found themselves in, over the past week.
Our promise to you:
What we can promise is we will do the best we can with a difficult situation. Our hope is that out of the collapse of the more ambitious Makoko Floating School, some sensisble projects, using the community's existing expertise can be funded that will provide better service to the community and it's population that live in unspeakable poverty.
Many thanks! Encouraged by the seed funds that have come in already!
**NOTE** All proceeds will go directly to the Whanyinna School. There may be a need to adapt our original plan which has been roughly costed (particularly if we raise less than our target) but the element that will not change is that all funds will be given for effective use by the Whanyinna school to improve and promote education.
**NOTE II** If you are in Lagos and would like to donate in Naira, please email Isi Etomi at firstname.lastname@example.org with a commitment and contact details and we will follow up (as well as reduce our overall target against your commitment here on GoFundMe).
We've made some progress in the last couple weeks on the operational side and have had a few preliminary discussions with a couple organisations that operate schools and will improve the functionality, efficiency and quality of the extension, so things are coming together, but we still need at least a few funds to get started.
Many thanks in advance for your support.
We've now raised over $9,000! We are getting close to having the funds to fund the extension for the school for the upcoming school year and will continue our campaign to fund the operations.
If you'd like to donate locally in naira, please email: email@example.com to arrange for a bank transfer / deposit and we'll deduct the $ amount from the overall target.