Shakira returns to Colombia to inaugurate new school

Posted on Feb 24 2014 - 3:43pm by Rico

Shakira returned to her native Colombia on Monday to inaugurate the latest school built by her own charity organization, the Barefoot Foundation.

The school in the northern city of Cartagena received $7.8 million in donations from the “Buy a Brick” initiative and will educate 1,700 students.

There are also systems in place to help the families of the students through the implementation of extracurricular activities that seek to provide tools to improve their quality of life. The school will have 49 classrooms as well as a library, an auditorium and sports area.

The Lomas del Peye community in Cartagena, which the school is aiming to benefit, consists of 11 neighborhoods that have been built up over the last 15 years as a result of forced displacement. In these areas there are significant levels of poverty, lack of access to public services and sporadic connection to the sewer system.

The school also hopes to serve as an environmental barrier to stop urban sprawl destroying the surrounding ecosystem.

The Barefoot Foundation, begun by Shakira in 1997, has the slogan of “we can be the first generation which makes education available for every child” and has been building schools in some of Colombia’s poorest areas since then. From their first school in Quibdo, the foundation has spread across the country for example building schools in Barranquilla and Bogota. For example, in Bogota, the foundation began in Soacha, a suburb with one of the highest rates of displaced colombians and began work at the Gabriel Garcia Marquez school in the Altos de Cazuca neighborhood, providing opportunities for 1,300 children.

Schools built by the Barefoot Foundation also offer vocational training, income-generating projects, health services and programs for the entire community.

However, according to Patricia Sierra, director of the Barefoot Foundation, for the latest school, the road to construction was not an easy one. “After Shakira broke ground business began in earnest. It was not an easy project because this district had no utilities, and we had to ensure public services and then roads followed by two efforts to achieve reconciliation with the government and then a year of construction.”

“However the community has really helped to get the school finished. Between 350 and 400 people have worked on the project and 60% of those have been from the community.”

The school was designed by renowned Barranquilla architect, Giancarlo Mazzanti and classes are due to begin on March 3.


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