A Class Of Sticks.

Dele always wanted to be an Engineer. His infatuation began when he was 4 years old and he stayed up for hours watching his father dissemble broken down television sets and just like magic the picture returned once he put them back together.

Dele admired his father and wanted so much to be like him that he copied his mannerism – his walk, talk, even down to his wink. To him his father was the perfect human, even though to the rest of his community his father was just the television repair-man.

Dele was let down when his father decided to kick him and his mother out of their one bedroom apartment, leaving Dele and his mother roaming the streets looking for cover. They slept under a few bridges in Lagos, using plastic bags for duvet until his mother met an old friend of hers who offered to share her home with them.

Dele’s mother’s friend lived in the slums of Ikota, and although they had lived in slightly better environments than Ikota provided, they were delighted to finally have a roof over their heads again.

After a couple of months Dele began to ask his mother when he could return to school as he still had the dream of becoming an Engineer. Every time he asked, his mother would inhale deeply and shakenly promise him “Soon”.

After a day of playing with some of the kids in Ikota, he learned that some of them attended a free school. Dele then went to his mother and pestered her to allow him attend with the other kids.

“Mama…but the school is free” he would say to her whenever she had any doubts until she finally took him for their profiling exercise. It was clear from his appearance that Dele was a vulnerable child but he was confident.

Dele was admitted into school that summer and in seven years he was done with primary school. He was one of the best children in his class. His love for machines became evident when he began to fix things around the house.

His reputation grew and people began to bring their broken down appliances to the 12 year old boy in Ikota. Whenever someone asked him where he had learnt to repair these things, he simply replied; “In a class of sticks”.

It has been 6 years since then and even though Dele never attended Secondary School, he has a big workshop where he repairs various household appliances. His business is very successful and most importantly, growing. He was able to achieve his dreams because of a school made of sticks down the road in Ikota.

The Bethesda school at Ikota was established in 2004. The first classrooms were built with Bamboo sticks. This model, which is cost-effective, safe and provides good ventilation, was replicated in the junior secondary school section last year.

To date, over 500 children have passed through the school made up of “Classrooms of sticks”.

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