The school building, as mentioned in the video in the previous post, had several problems. It hadn’t been painted in many years, the roof had huge holes in it and leaked terribly every time it rained, and the school was in bad shape in general. The teachers and I both understood that the condition of the building could negatively affect the psyche of the students. We knew that significant improvements to the building would immediately improve attitudes and discipline by giving them a happier place to study at every day.
First, we thought about how we wanted the school to look after the renovation. We wanted a mural on the side of the school, the shield of Nuestra Señora del Rosario, a Colombian flag, the name of the school across the top, a portrait of the namesake of the school, Andrés Escobar, and an inspirational quote. It was important to have a portrait of Escobar, a Colombian footballer who was brutally murdered in Medellín after scoring an own-goal in the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
We contracted a painter, Saul, to design the mural for the side of the school and to paint the designs we needed. He gave us an incredible offer knowing our funding situation. He basically cut his price in half and gave us the mural for free, and we had to cover the cost of supplies. This allowed us to stay well under budget and do even more things for the school.
The first part that was finished was the interior:
We also talked to a carpenter to fix the damaged roof. He was so inspired by the project that he offered his services for basically nothing plus supplies.
Saul worked tirelessly and finished the exterior after a few weeks. When it was done, the school ended up being called “the most beautiful school in Belén”. It went from another drab building in a rough community to drawing people to the neighborhood just to see the new look. Here are the before and after photos:
The following photos are some of the details of the school, including the shield, portrait of Andrés Escobar, and the very appropriate quote by Nelson Mandela – “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”:
The mural instantly beautified the school and the entire neighborhood:
The finishing touches on the school were saved for last. We decided that the Colombian flag should be made of handprints of the students. Marisol told them that by putting their handprint on the flag, they were signing a contract to take care of the school, study hard, respect the other students, and to be honest at all times. All of the students took it seriously and faithfully agreed. During the last hour of class, we had each student and teacher put their handprint on the flag.