2021 Year-End Newsletter

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Great news! Our 28th school has just begun construction, with the 29th right on its heels. We hope to have another in the works by mid- 2022 – making a total of 30 schools since Build a School in Africa built its first in 2005. Not bad for a team of just 4 people! Build a School in Africa has no paid employees and no overhead (our office is in a spare bedroom), so 100% of every donation goes directly into constructing our schools. Wishing you a happy holiday season and a joyous and healthy new year!

A couple of months ago we sent out a newsletter about our joint project with Mali Rising, a small NGO that has also built quite a number of middle schools in Mali; we are collaborating on a school in Tentoubougou, a town on the highway between Bamako and Bougouni. The land has been cleared, all the arrangements with the mayor or of the town, the regional school board, and the village School Management Committee have been made, and construction is due to begin momentarily.

In the meantime, we have received funding from a non-profit organization in Adelaide, Australia, for a three-classroom middle school for grades 7, 8, and 9 in the village of Kintieri.

We broke ground a few days ago, and already there are rows upon rows of concrete blocks lined up in neat ranks at the building site.

Workers with the cinder blocks for the new middle school in Kintieri, Mali.

In contrast to those of you who probably would buy them ready-made at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s hardware stores, these are made one at a time on site, using a two-piece mold. At remarkable speed, the workers fill a mold with wet cement pack it down, level it off, flip it over, and remove the mold. Repeat – about 5,000 times! The blocks are watered down periodically so that they don’t dry out too fast, which would make them break apart. As many times as I’ve seen this process, it’s still a thrill to watch. There is very little mechanization involved with the construction process; the foundation is dug with pickaxes and shovels, sacks of cement and the finished cement blocks are transported to the work site via donkey carts. Yet the construction is usually finished in three months or less. The three classrooms, the latrines, and the office/supply room buildings will probably be finished by the end of February.

Unfortunately, the world-wide rise in inflation, oil prices, and supply-chain delays have driven up the price of building materials like cement and iron re-bar, as well as the cost of transporting them. For many years were able to keep the cost of two classrooms, plus latrines and the school office building, to $15,000 USD, and three classrooms and outbuildings to $22,000. We estimate that the higher prices will add an additional $2,000 to each project, unless prices come back down. By American standards this is still a bargain. The school classrooms each measure about 27’ x 22’; my 22’ x 24’ horse barn, smaller than the size of one classroom, cost more in 2006 than an entire middle school did in 2021!

We currently have at least two more communities on our waiting list: Sanobougou, whose middle school currently has over 100 students per classroom; and Gagnebougou, which has outdated mud-brick classrooms that do not meet government standards.

We are hoping to raise enough funding to build at least one of these schools in 2022.

Existing school building in Gagnebougou

In other news, we would like to tell you about a young man in Singapore who contacted us about his project.

Aarit, founder of the First Aid Project in Singapore

He wrote, ‘Hello everyone, my name is Aarit. I am a 16-year-old Grade11 student at UWC East, as well as the founder of a service initiative, called the First Aid Project. Our goal is to get First Aid Kits to non-profit schools in underdeveloped regions. I had felt the need to address this after learning about how so few non-profit schools have First Aid kits and how important they are to creating a safe education space. I first thought someone has to do something about this like the UN; then I realized that I myself can do something about this, so I rolled up my sleeves and started fundraising and collected $8,500 SGD (about $2,000 USD) for 4 different organizations, one of them being Build a School in Africa!”

Backpacks full of first-aid supplies donated by the First Aid Project

Abou wrote “Here is one of the First Aid kits. We are procuring 50 first aid kits to be distributed to our partner schools. The kits will be customized with the BSA logo as you can see in the picture.”

As a kindergarten teacher for 33 years, I know how important a good first aid kit can be in a class of lively youngsters. Thank you, Aarit!

Best wishes to all for the holiday season and thank you all for your support!

Judy, Abou, Madou, and Matthew