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.
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.
Dear Build a School in Africa Supporters,
In spite of the political unrest in Mali in 2012, Build a School in Africa was able to build its 10th school, in the small village of Kounfouna. My annual trip, which had been postponed until January 2013, had to be canceled because French and Pan-African troops went into northern Mali just 2 days before my flight, and there were State Department warnings about travel to Mali. However, the funds had already been wired to Sikasso, and we were able to go ahead with the Kounfouna project, with construction starting in February 2013 and finished by early May.
Politically, things have stabilized in most of Mali. There have been occasional skirmishes in the north around Kidal and Timbuctou, but they have been quickly put down by French and Malian troops. The presidential election took place in July, with Ibrahim Boubacar Keita winning a decisive victory in a peaceful election, and Parliamentary elections also took place peacefully on December 1.
Since I had been unable to visit Kounfouna in 2012 , we visited the new school early in November to see it in operation. The village put on a huge celebration, with music and dancing and lots of speeches. This tiny village had not had ANY school until 2012; miles (over really terrible roads) from the nearest community with a school, almost none of their children had access to any education. In 2012 a first grade was started in a windowless storeroom, hardly a satisfactory learning environment, but now that they have two bright new classrooms—with hopes to add more in the future—the children of Koufouna have a much brighter future. They currently have just one teacher, who shuttles between the first and second grade classes, but the mayor has promised to hire another teacher, and has also promised to give free birth certificates to any parents who wish to enroll their children, so we expect that the number of children in school will increase dramatically.
Fundraising continued during 2013 for our 11th school, sited in Kongoliko, in the Blendio commune north of Niena. They already had one cement block classroom, and Build a School in Africa is adding two more. We started construction in Kongoliko on November 12th, and the school is already almost half finished. Upon completion. that will have 3 cement block classrooms that meet government standards, as well as three of the old-style mud-brick classrooms, which have definitely seen better days, but at least they can serve grades 1 through 6.
For 2014, we hope to build our 12th school since 2005; there are a number of communities on a waiting list and our partners in Mali will soon be drawing up community profiles before making a decision on where it will be. Wishing you health and happiness in 2014.
Judy Lorimer, Project Director