Please do not ask us to supply funding to other projects. We have been receiving an increasing number of requests to fund worthy school construction projects in many parts of Africa. However, we are a very small organization with limited resources and fund-raising capabilities, and must confine our school projects to the Sikasso region of Mali. For the near future, at least, we cannot expand beyond this region and cannot provide funding for other organizations. We wish you luck and success with your own projects, but we are unable to provide any assistance. Thank you.
Dear Build a School in Africa Supporters,
Thanks to some very generous donations at the end of last year, rather than wait until the end of the year we were able to wire funds in January for our 12th school, built in N’Golokouna, a village in the Kapala commune near the border with Burkina Faso. Construction started in January. This is a good time to build, because it’s the dry season, the harvests are over, and the residents are available to supply the unskilled labor that makes up part of their contribution to the project, in addition to their donation of the land, foundation stones, and sand and gravel, which are usually gathered locally. It’s also the coolest time of year, with construction pretty much finished by the time the really hot weather begins.
Our summer trail ride fundraiser was successful, with over 40 riders enjoying the beautiful trails in Groton, Massachusetts, riding 8, 14 or 20 miles on a marked trail through woods and fields, with a home-cooked African buffet dinner after the ride.
In November we were grateful recipients of a very generous grant from the Institute for World Justice, and we just wired the funds for our 13th school, for which we will break ground this week in Kartioni, about 12 miles east of Sikasso. Kartioni currently has just one cement block classroom, shared by 5th and 6th grades, one mud-brick classroom for grades 3 and 4, and classes for the youngest students are held in a vestibule elsewhere in the village.
Our new building will enable them to have all the students in one area. In a very encouraging trend, there are currently more girls than boys enrolled in school in Kartioni, and it has been our experience that wherever we have built a school, overall enrollment has increased. It is also easier to hire and retain teachers when they can teach in a bright, airy and durable new building, rather than in dark, stuffy mud-brick buildings that have to be re-plastered after every rainy season.
Our Director, Judy Lorimer, did not take her annual visit Mali in 2014; although there have been only a few Ebola cases there, it seemed prudent to delay travel to the area until the epidemic is completely controlled. Our goal is to be able to construct our 14th school by the end of 2015.
We wish you a joyful year in 2015!
Judy Lorimer, Project Director
How do we build new primary schools in West Africa? It costs about US $30,000 to build a bright, modern, well-ventilated, concrete-block primary school in Mali. These schools usually replace mud-brick schoolrooms which are small, dark, stuffy, and require constant upkeep. A new school building by itself doesn’t guarantee that every child will get a good education–you also need , but a clean, dry place to learn is a necessary component.
But how do we do it? Where does the money come from? From people like you! We extend a huge thank you to our latest donors, the students, faculty, staff, and parents of the Burlingame Intermediate School in California. In February 2014, the school held a fundraising campaign, with a goal of raising $1500 to help build a school in Mali, West Africa. They exceeded their goal and raised $3,656, which will go a long way toward helping build our next school, scheduled for Kartioni next fall. This short video describes the gaps in primary education in Africa, and a little bit about their fundraising campaign.
We’ve been incredibly fortunate to receive donations from schools, churches and individuals. Fund-raising ideas have ranged from bake sales, car washes, and spaghetti suppers to a young woman who ran a marathon and raised $1,000 in pledges from family, friends and co-workers. Visit our Contribute page to learn more!
Note: The statement that many second-graders in Mali could not read a word in French may be true, but it should be noted that most schools start teaching in the local language (Bambara, Fulani, Songhai…) for the first couple of years and don’t begin French until grade 3.
Talk about starting off 2014 with a bang! When our Director Judy Lorimer left for Mali in November we had just $55.65 left in our construction account. Then we received a $5,000 donation from a family foundation, $500 from the Four Square and a Roof Foundation in Canada, and $10,000 from ABTech Technologies in California, giving us enough for our next school!
The next school construction project has already begun in the village of Ngolokouna, in the Kapala Commune south of Sikasso in southern Mali. We decided not to wait until November because they really need help!
School construction usually starts in November during the cool and dry season in Mali. In a country whose economy is based on agriculture, nearly everyone is helping in the fields from May to October. During the hot season, usually beginning in February, manual labor gets increasingly difficult. However, as of right now, harvest time is over, no one is in the fields, and it hasn’t started to get brutally hot, so it made sense not to wait to get this project underway.
You can read some background about the village of Ngolokouna in this document (PDF, 120K) from our partners in Mali.