About Us

Since 2005, Build a School in Africa has built at least one new school every year in the Sikasso Region of Mali, West Africa. Currently only about 65% of Mali‘s children can attend school because of the lack of classrooms, especially in underserved rural areas. Many communities are still making do with small, dark, and stuffy mud-brick buildings or temporary classrooms, called “hangars” in French, made from straw mats or walls of corn or millet stalks attached to a pole framework.

We are an all-volunteer, non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, registered with the IRS (Employer Identification Number 03-0406505). Check us out on Guidestar for more information.

We need your help: As an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff, 100% of the contributions we receive goes toward building new schools. Please consider making a contribution.

Requesting Funds from us

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.

Your Support Will Help!

In addition to our regular fundraising activities, we have received extraordinary support from individuals, schools, and small foundations and businesses. Students of all ages, from nursery schools to colleges and universities have raised money running spaghetti suppers, car washes, doing neighborhood jobs and yard work, talent shows, toy and book sales, and other fund-raising ideas.

It’s a great project for kids to work on, since 100% of the money they raise goes into the construction fund. We send a Community Profile of the village where the school is being built, and send photos of the construction in progress and photos of the school when it is finished, so supporters can see the results of their efforts. We also send a yearly newsletter each December


In 2002, Kyla McKenna, a senior at the Bromfield school in Harvard, Massachusetts, needed a topic for her Senior Humanities Project. She knew that Judy Lorimer, a kindergarten teacher at the elementary school, made frequent trips to Mali, West Africa, to study West African dance and culture, and would bring school supplies for a local school. Kyla decided to raise money to help build a new school. She raised almost $10,000 the first year, and in the following year other students would take over the project.

Building a school in the urban capital city of Bamako proved to be financially unrealistic, so Build a School in Africa teamed up with Save the Children, which had a strong presence in the Sikasso region in the south of the country. In November 2005, Ms. Lorimer brought $10,000, and a three-room middle school was built in the village of Dialakoroba. Construction began in November 2005, and was completed by the end of January, 2006.

Encouraged by the success of the first project, fund-raising continued, and a second school was built the following year in Massamagana. For many years one of our major fund-raisers was “African Rhythms”, a show of African dance and music; after 17 shows in 11 years, the final show was held in 2012, as ever-increasing expenses made the shows less profitable. Ms. Lorimer, an avid horseback rider, runs an “African Safari” pleasure trail ride every summer to benefit the project, providing a home-cooked African buffet dinner for local horseback riders after they enjoy riding a marked trail course of 7, 15, or 20 miles through beautiful public and private lands in Groton, Massachusetts.

Build a School in Africa built its first 7 schools in partnership with Save the Children. But in 2010, Save the Children shifted its focus to teacher training instead of building schools, so we teamed up with two former Save the Children administrators, Abou Coulibaly and Madou Traore, and we have continued to raise funds and build schools. This has been a very effective partnership, and we have built 13 additional schools as of mid-2018. Our 21st school will be built in Danzana in the fall of 2018. Our goal is to build at least one school a year, but we can’t do it without your support! See our Contribute link to make a contribution through PayPal or Network For Good, or mail a check to Build a School in Africa, c/o Judy Lorimer, 83 Groton St. Pepperell, MA 01463.

If you are in the New England area, Ms. Lorimer (also known as Korotoumou Coulibaly in Mali) is available as a speaker for your club, organization, or school. She can provide an exciting and interactive presentation with DVD photo-journals, masks, textiles, and other African art objects, and demonstration of a traditional dance. For more information, please send an e-mail to jmlorimer@juno.com.