On February 24th global star Shakira returned to her home country of Colombia to inaugurate the eighth school funded by her non-profit foundation, Pies Descalzos (Bare Feet). The school and community center, located in the low-income neighborhood of Lomas del Peyé in Cartagena, the tourist destination in the Atlantic Coast of Colombia, will serve 1,700 needy children ranging from day care to high school age.
The $10 million school, built with funds from local and international donors as well as Shakira’s own money, includes a football field and enough classrooms for 1,700 students.
“I want to demonstrate through the Pies Descalzos model how we can change the lives, not only of the children who come to school, but also their families. Entire communities can be transformed when you have a school that functions properly,” said the singer, noting that when she built a school in her hometown of Barranquilla, there were no paved roads in the area. In Lomas del Peye, one of Cartagena’s poorest neighborhoods, much of the community had no water or power.
For some residents, the new school not only represents hope for social improvement, but also an urban renewal project that will help cut down on crime.
The Lomas del Peyé school was designed by Colombian architect Giancarlo Mazzanti and funded with help from local Cartagena government, the Howard G Buffett Foundation, Fundación Mario Santo Domingo, Fundación FC Barcelona, Fundación Pacific Rubiales Energy, Ecopetrol, Colombian daily El Tiempo and the country’s Institute for Child Welfare.