By Luke Kenton
This devoted Filipino teacher dedicated three years – and several pay cheques – to transform her drab classroom into a pink Hello Kitty haven in the hope of inspiring her students to keep coming to school.
Located in the mountain ranges of Masbate in the Philippines, some of the students in 29-year-old Samelyn Lafuente’s class have to walk up to eight kilometers every morning just to get to school.
Recognising their incredible efforts, Samelyn set out to create a learning space that would continue to inspire the children to attend her lessons at Cawayan Exterior Elementary School.
After spontaneously buying a Hello Kitty decorative figure in 2015, Samelyn’s obsession was born – and three years later, the classroom is a shrine to the popular Japanese character.
From the vibrant pink walls and desks to the Hello Kitty carpet and decorations, Samelyn’s classroom has gone down a storm with her students – and none of them have missed a single day of school this year.
Delighted by the results of her “labour of love,” mother-of-two Samelyn, who has lost count of the cost of the project, said: “I just want to help the children of our community, and for them to be able to read and write to improve their life prospects.
“During my free time I’m cutting pictures of Hello Kitty [to stick on the wall] and at the weekend I’m in the mall buying materials.
“I do it because I love my pupils.
“Having a Hello Kitty-themed classroom is one way of encouraging the children to come to school every day, despite the distance they have to travel.
“I know they’re tired from travelling but seeing their happy faces and big smiles when they enter out classroom makes me happy.
“[Now] we always have perfect attendance.
“My principal and my student’s parents are all very supportive of the project – they too have contributed Hello Kitty items to the room.
“My Hello Kitty isn’t finished yet – I’m not sure I’ll ever stop decorating it.”