From the Muddle, Owosina “shot” Mariam Back to School in Shot2School Project
Bayo Owosina, an advertising practitioner by the day, maintains a regular job as a Creative Director and co-founder with Lagos new agency, The Hook, based in the Lekki axis of Lagos. Through his regular job, he consistently interacts with brands and brand owners.
His professional calling has imbued him with the knack for good strategies and uncanny narratives that have moved brands to higher heights in the market.
However, when not strategizing or churning out copies for brands or his clients, Bayo as an ardent lover of cameras, delights in shooting his was around the country and anywhere his lens directs him. The only caveat for such shots is that they must have or tell worthy stories and a worthy one for that matter.
Bayo was on such a spree recently at the densely populated and chaotic Oshodi market. Despite successive Lagos State governments’ efforts to bring about sanity in the Oshodi area and make it the envy of people and visitors to the state, the commotions remain. In the midst of this shabby situation, some people have intensified efforts to eke out a living on the endless rail tracks and adjacent streets.
Here, men, women and pitiable children are exposed to the real hard life! Meandering through this intense crowd amidst worrisome Lagos down pour, could be a difficult task. Bayo’s like the expert that he is, armed with his camera defied the rains on this faithful day, spotted his subject, discovered the untold but all pervasive story on little Mariam Babatunde’s face. And there goes his camera’s shutter.
As developing cosmopolitan center and economic capital of the country, Lagos has the largest number of people from different tribes, culture and customs but the struggle for success creates a hub of unity among them, Bayo, the documentary photographer reasoned.
Among the vast sea of hawkers in Oshodi on Bayo’s visit was 5-year-old Mariam. She hawks combs, brushes and cellophane bags on the unsafe streets in the area. She does this to assist her mother and her factory-worker dad in their duty to bring food to the table.
Showing his intense dislike for Mariam’s unsafe situation in the unkempt and delinquent populated, Bayo explained that it is unthinkable to find an innocent child in an environment people tagged unsafe, even for older ones. “Mariam is exposed to the daily routine of the smokers, drug induced individuals and the red-eyes hardcore guys with deep voices already consumed by weeds”.
“This little girl is surrounded by the people whose daily lifestyle do not transcend to deserving applause. This undeniably may spell a doom for the child’s future”, Bayo declared.
According to him, one cannot talk about a state as large as Lagos without rising concern of threat to lives and properties. With the right education, we can re-order things and lives and put things in right perspectives.
It became a challenge for Bayo to help this innocent girl by giving her the opportunity to be among her mates in school. Off the cuff, the solution that popped up in his head was to use her pictures to raise awareness and generate support for the little girl to enjoy 21st century parenting.
Indeed, Bayo’s different pictures of the little girl went online, generated and still generating reactions with interested people showing concern about the plight and future of Mariam in midst of such crime ravenous community.
The Shot2School project has mapped out plans to produce and sell framed pictures of Mariam and other very limited edition street shots to kind-hearted individuals and in turn, direct all funds to a secured education trust fund thereby ensuring Mariam stays in school.
For now, Mariam is back in school and not just any school! The beneficiary’s mother, Balquees Babatunde expresses joy at the “God sent help”. However, Bayo’s concern is to make the project sustainable and to benefit a lot more children to ensure a better future. Hence, the documentary photographer has stepped up #shot2school initiative by partnering with Young African Leaders Education Support Initiative (YALES Initiative).
YALES is a leading advocate for children and youth- trapped in the 4 walls of public secondary schools, school drop outs and street kids. Its 2018 project holds across 35 schools in Lagos and targets 3500 students/teenagers, is led by Temitayo Owosina.
YALES Initiative finds a strategic fit with Shot2School as it gives opportunity for the initiatives to target and address the issues of moral reorientation among children before they become teenagers and young adults.
The #Shot2School initiative is one at a time project. “It’s only when we are certain that Mariam has enough fund fixed for her primary education, only then we’ll take on another beneficiary. The recruitment to the project has to be organic”, Bayo declared.
Apart from the production cost, all proceeds from the sales of the portrait pictures go into the education trust fund. As pioneer beneficiary, Mariam is bound to open the door of opportunity to other children on the streets.