EYEAFRICA TV: Lagos, Nigeria: A dancing school made up of children from underprivileged backgrounds is seeking to empower youngsters in Nigeria, encouraging them to fulfill their talents while having fun.
There are no dull moments during dance rehearsals at the Dream Catcher Academy in Lagos, where children get to display their different dance movements in groups, accompanied by loud cheers and sometimes singing along to popular songs.
The free academy is run by Seyi Oluyole who opens her doors to orphaned, street and impoverished kids. She says her experience of poverty as a young child made her realize what it feels like to be in a helpless situation.
“I believe every child deserves an opportunity to succeed, irrespective of their background and I realize that there are so many people that have talent but because they don’t have the opportunity,” she said.
But this is not just about dance, Dream Catchers is about reshaping the lives of these children. Through the project, Oluyole also makes sure that these kids are enrolled in schools. Her biggest projection is an art academy which provides life skills and formal education.
“During school days, we only rehearse for one hour, and during the weekend, we rehearse for longer hours, like three or four hours, and also education is very important. We have a library in the house that someone donated where sometimes I make sure that the kids bring in a book report every week just to make sure that they are reading and staying up to date,” she said.
One of the young trainees is Oluwaseun, a nine-year-old girl. Things became difficult for her family after her dad died, but ever since Dream Catcher took her in, her dreams of becoming a great dancer have helped their through the tough times.
“Now I’m eating good food and now I have good clothes to wear. I’ve gone for a lot of shows that I can’t count it. I want to become a teacher when I grow up and a dancer – because whenever I am sad, when I dance, it always makes me happy,” she said.
Each child is fed daily at cost of about three U.S. dollars, and Oluyole has taken it upon herself to provide this made up from her own personal savings, donations and whatever the academy makes from paid shows.
As well as helping them escape their current plight through the power of dance, the academy is serious about ensuring students are instilled with the proper values that will last them a lifetime and see them go far.