First Beneficiary Emerge from Owosina’s ‘Shot2School’ Project

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Adedayo Adejobi

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 strategising or churning out copies for brands or his clients, Owosina as an ardent lover of cameras, delights in shooting his way around the country and anywhere his lens directs him.

The only caveat for such shots is that they must have or tell stories and a worthy one for that matter.

Owosina was on such a spree recently at the densely populated and chaotic Oshodi market, where people throng to eke a living on the endless rail tracks and adjacent streets.

Meandering through this intense crowd amidst worrisome Lagos downpour, could be a difficult task. But Owosina like the expert that he is, armed with his camera defied the rains on this fateful day, when spotted his subject.

He discovered the untold but all pervasive story of little Mariam Babatunde’s face. And there went 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, Owosina, the documentary photographer reasoned.

Among the vast sea of hawkers in Oshodi on his visit was five-year-old Babatunde. 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 her unsafe situation in the unkempt and delinquent populated, he 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”, he declared.

According to him, one cannot talk about a state as large as Lagos without rising concern of threat to lives and properties, adding that with the right education however, lives and things can be re-ordered and put in their right perspectives.

It became a challenge for Owosina 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, Owosina’s different pictures of the little girl went online, generated and is still generating reactions with interested people showing concern about her plight and future in midst of such crime ravenous community.

The Shot2School project has mapped out plans to produce and sell framed pictures of Babatunde 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 she stays in school.

For now, she is back in school and not just any school! The beneficiary’s mother, Balquees Babatunde expressed joy at the “God sent help”.

However, Owosina’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 Young African Leaders Education Support Initiative (YALES).

YALES is a leading advocate for children and youth- trapped in the four walls of public secondary schools, school drop outs and street kids.

It’s 2018 project cuts across 35 schools in Lagos and targets 3500 students/teenagers. The group 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 she 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”, Owosina declared.

Apart from the production cost, all proceeds from the sales of the portrait pictures go into the education trust fund. As pioneer beneficiary, Babatunde is bound to open the door of opportunity to other children on the streets.