School offers rare hope for kids in Lagos fishing slum

In Nigeria, the Lagos slum of Makoko was built on the water by fishermen. In some ways it has succeeded – the community is growing. But the people live in poverty, and with only one school, there are few prospects for the children. The pandemic meant many of those who had been to school returned to the fishing boats to help their parents.

Makoko slum is one of the most densely populated in Lagos. Its makeshift houses are built on stilts and surrounded by floating rubbish. Around 7 a.m – kids arrive for school.

Some have left home with empty stomachs. Those who are early enough get breakfast here. Makoko’s fishing community is one of the poorest in the country. But the founder of the slum’s only school is trying to make change happen through education.

When Noah Shemede started this school in 2009, many parents were not interested in sending their children.

Fishing is the source of the livelihood in Makoko. Most of the people here in this community have no formal education background. So convincing parents to send their kids to school has been a lot of work for Noah Shemede.

With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic Noah’s school had to close. Most children were sent fishing by their parents to make ends meet – like in the old days.

Noah had to find ways to attract kids back to class.
He now has more than two hundred students – children who have bigger dreams than their parents.

Noah simply hopes these children will keep coming to classes so that their dreams like are not completely out of reach.