From plastic waste to real change for communities
"This project encourages parents to enrol their child in school"
We are in Bléniméouin, a village located 60 km north of the town of Duékoué in the west of Côte d’Ivoire, in the Mount Peko highland range. Bléniméouin has more than 20,000 inhabitants. In this village’s only primary school, classrooms are old and dimly lit. For a long time, 100 preschool students were stuck in a tent where they took lessons.
Leila, 3, studied for two years in this makeshift classroom. Her mother, Ms. N’Dri, 35, was very concerned for her daughter’s safety.
“I thought that one day the tent might collapse with the kids inside. Just behind the tent, there are pieces of metal that regularly injure children, and lessons have been interrupted several times because reptiles had broken in.”
Last year, residents of the village saw trucks loaded with plastic bricks which started to come to the village. A few days later, a grey building – a brand-new school made out of recycled plastic bricks – emerged. Everyone was impressed and rushed to register their children for those who had not.
According to Gléo Téhé Patrick, 58, secretary to the Village Chief of Bléniméouin, the school has become a real tool in the fight against child labour, a recurring problem in this area.
This project encourages parents to enrol their child in school, which will help curb the phenomenon of child labour. Because of the study conditions the children were in before, parents preferred that they come and help them to work in the field, because they did not even believe that school could positively impact the lives of their children.
Two other buildings are under construction to accommodate primary school students. The school principal is eager for them to be finalized. “We are waiting for two plastic brick buildings to be built. Work has slowed down due to COVID-19. These classrooms will have a very positive impact because we will be able to work more easily,” explains Coulibaly Doh Bakary, 36, director of the Bléniméouin 2 public primary school.
Zeninbou wants her daughter Leila to be able to finish her primary education in these classrooms, which guarantee good learning conditions for her daughter. She now feels reassured and is satisfied with the conditions under which her daughter Leila, who wishes to become a writer later, studies.
Thanks to funding from UNICEF in Italy, the construction of this school has brought enormous changes in the lives of the people of Bléniméouin. Thanks to these buildings, more 100 children will be able to go to school.