Moved by the state of classrooms, Malawian-born Canadian model and artist Tajah Olson has embarked on a project to raise funds to rehabilitate school blocks in Lilongwe.
Olson, who was in the country with her family for the Christmas holiday, has already rehabilitated one classroom block using her personal resources.
The model told On the Arts that during her last trip to Malawi in 2009, she was disappointed with the condition of Kalumba Primary School at Nanjiri in Lilongwe that she decided to raise some funds in Canada to help reconstruct the floors and fix up some of the walls in the school.
“During this trip, we managed to fix the Standard One block. We fixed the floors and painted the walls and made a proper entrance into the classroom. The Standard One classes had it the worst, the class was filthy dark and depressing,” she said, noting that it is time government put its resources to proper use.
“How can kids feel so motivated to go to school in these conditions? I am disappointed at how the government in Malawi treats its schools. These things should be a priority in this country. Instead of spending it on things that do not make sense such as roadblocks every five minutes,” she said.
According to Olson, her father Richard Olson was the team leader in fixing 37 desks. She also pooled together the resources of her uncles and mother, Glenda Olson.
“Everyone did a great job and I hope the Standard One pupils start this new school term with some excitement to a positive future,” she said.
Olson said in the future, she would like to fix more classes and have the community itself volunteer to help make their school a better place so more kids can be educated and inspire other kids as well in whatever they choose to be.
Aside the school rehabilitation project, Oslon has also embarked on an art project.
“Since I am a artist and I am fortunate enough that people have bought my work, including the City of Seattle which has purchased three of my artworks, I decided I wanted to capture some faces in Malawi.
“So, I picked 15 children from the village and decided to work with them and pay them for their time. I would want to add these photos to my exhibition” she said.
Born and raised in Malawi and Namibia, Olson’s art is inspired by her childhood and heritage. A face and body painter, Olson’s preferred canvas is her figure and she incorporates her own costumes, makeup and hair design to tell her stories and convey her messages.
Oslon is also an African dance performer/instructor based in Vancouver, Canada she is a self taught dancer that has created her own style of dance which is influenced by different tribal/pop dances mostly from different parts of Africa and other parts of the world.