“We focus on children from horrible backgrounds, they’ve witnessed their parents murdered…they're displaced, despondent, many had never been to school, it’s beyond teaching, it’s how do we begin to end the cycle of poverty, violence and illiteracy?” Senior Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on Humanitarian Interventions Dr. Mariam Masha says.
Hakeem Subair founded 1 Million Teachers when he was a student at Queens University.
“It was very personal to me, before I relocated to Canada…my wife was looking for a daycare for my daughter and she didn’t find anything she liked and the idea was 'how about we start a daycare?.. Then why don’t we start a preschool..why don’t we just continue?'…There was no plan at all, that exposed me to so many challenges when it came to education and just recognizing teachers were very significant in making a difference,” he says.
The exhibit includes the “My Story of Water” project where children explored the importance of water to sustaining life. Hand-painted jerry cans are on display, along with photographs of children engaging in reading, crocheting and more. Subair says the arts-based education develops critical thinking and communication skills.
“They’re learning by doing project-based work without even knowing they’re learning, that’s the fun part."
Through a partnership with Queens, 1MT provides opportunities for students in the education program to go to Nigeria and lead training programs to attract new teachers.
Masha says this work has not only turned childrens’ lives around, but has transformed whole communities.
“Today, they are coding, reading, writing, they have hopes and dreams..it creates a multiplier effect as children bring this renewed sense of hope back to their families and communities.”
Muna Taro means “coming together.” The exhibit runs until June 29.
Listen to the full CFRC interview with Hakeem Subair: