Build a School in Africa 2017 Newsletter

This was an exceptional year for this tiny non-profit organization. Our 17th school was completed in Doumanaba last spring, providing new classrooms to replace classes that had been housed in an old storeroom, and two more schools are presently under construction.

New school in Doumanaba, Mali

New school in Doumanaba, Mali

Our 18th project was to build a new school in the community of Kodialanida; the roof of one of their classrooms had collapsed earlier in the year, injuring several children. We were exceptionally fortunate to be contacted by a generous family in the American west; they not only donated funds for THREE classrooms, but also added solar panels for one classrooms, giving children and teachers the ability to do homework or plan lessons after dark, and provide evening literacy classes or hold meetings.

In November, BSA Director Judy Lorimer traveled to Mali (at her own expense) to participate in the groundbreaking ceremonies for Kodialanida and also Nolabougou, where we planned to build two new classrooms.

laying the first brick

“Briki Folo Da” or laying the ceremonial first brick for a new school on Nov 20, 2017

In 16 days, the walls of Kodialanida’s new school were up to the tops of the windows.

new school in Kodialanida under construction

Quick progress on building the new school in Kodialanida

In Nolabougou, they had three cement block classrooms that had been built 20 years ago and were showing their age – crumbling cement around rusted or missing doors and windows, cracked walls, and broken concrete floors. Since Save the Children had recently built new latrines and the office/storage building that BSA usually builds, we will be able to use those funds to repair and paint the old classrooms as well as replacing temporary or mud- brick classrooms with brand new ones, thanks in large part to a substantial donation from Wigigo.

The current school building Nolabougou that is in need of repairs

The current school building Nolabougou that is in need of repairs

We visited four schools that we have built since 2011: Sossoro, Kounfouna, Tiogola and Doumanaba. The donor for Kodialanida also designed a survey that we gave to the ten most recent schools, to determine how having the new schools has impacted life in their communities. The survey will help us determine future expansions and track the growth in the number of children attending school. We hope to publish the survey results on our website after the information is compiled. Most of the communities where we have built new schools have reported increased enrollments, and they would like more classrooms. Visits to other communities on our waiting list reveal that there are still far too many villages that are making do with temporary shelters: walls of straw mats or cornstalks lashed to wooden poles, or the small, dark and stuffy buildings made of mud brick.

Children learning in a temporary classroom.

Children learning in a temporary classroom.

N’Dalen, our next project, is fortunate to be a large village that draws students from nearby communities to its middle school, which has an enrollment of 400+, but they need more concrete classrooms for their grades 1-3, now housed in mud-brick or temporary classrooms. As you can imagine, it is much easier to hire and keep teachers if they have decent, light and airy classrooms in which to teach.

An older classroom in Tabakoro

An older classroom in Tabakoro

All our classrooms meet or exceed government standards, with 5 large windows in each classroom. Contrast the photo below with the one in Tabakoro: the mud-brick walls have large cracks, and the doors and windows are in disrepair. But we also have a request for a new middle school in the large town of M’Pessoba. Middle schools are rare outside the major cities, which means that for most children in rural areas, their education effectively ends with grade 6, unless there is a middle school within walking distance or parents can afford to board their children with friends or relatives in a town that does offer grades 7 through 9. High schools are usually found only in the major towns and cities.

An airy and bright new classroom in Kounfouna

An airy and bright new classroom in Kounfouna

There is no end to the demand – and need – for more schools, and our waiting list keeps growing. The two schools presently under construction should be completed by the end of February, and depending on available funding, we will start construction in N’Dalen by next fall.

Build a School in Africa is a very small organization, but we have managed to raise funds for 19 schools since 2005; N’Dalen will be our 20th. A popular Malian proverb states “Dooni dooni kononi be nyaga da” — “Little by little the bird builds its nest.” Every donation helps, and we thank all our supporters for their generosity.

I ni ce — Thank you! Best wishes for a joyous and healthy year in 2018.

Judy Lorimer, Madou Traore, Abou Coulibaly, and Matt Heberger

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Partnership with the Wigigo App

We are delighted to announce a partnership with Wigigo, an app developed by a Swiss technology company. Last year, the developers told us they would like to help support the construction of our next school. Every time you use their app Wigigo to purchase a gift, they will donate 1 Euro (a little over a dollar) to Build a School in Africa, up to $20,000.

For more information, see, or try downloading the app:

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Photos: Construction of New School in Doumanaba

Great news! Our partners in Mali send word that construction of the new school in Doumanaba is now underway.

Your donations made it possible for children in this village to attend school in a clean, modern classrooms. The photos show the preparation of the site, making of bricks, and digging of a pit for latrines at the school.

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Year-End Review for 2016

Dear Build a School in Africa Supporters,

All in all, 2016 was another good year for this small, all-volunteer organization. The Build a School in Africa project is still going strong – by early spring we had finished our 15th school, in Tiogola, and our 16th, in Nimporodioula (villages in southern Mali, in West Africa).

New school at Tiogola, our 15th

New school at Tiogola, our 15th

The school in Tiogola was mostly financed by the international fan clubs of a Korean “boy band” called Super Junior in honor of its 10th anniversary. They are now raising funds for an 11th anniversary school project. They got a late start, so my trip to Mali has been moved forward to January.

Inside a new classroom in Tiogola

Inside a new classroom in Tiogola

In January, 2016, in Nimporodioula, the temporary shelters made of straw mats lashed to a pole framework were replaced by durable cinder-block classrooms, creating much better learning environments for the students. This was the third school mostly financed by a California tech company, which had also built schools in NʼGolokouna and Gongasso in the previous two years.

A makeshift, open-air classroom in Nimporodioula where children took classes before the new school was built

A makeshift, open-air classroom in Nimporodioula where children took classes before the new school was built

In January 2017, weʼll break ground on school #17, in the community of Doumanaba. Presently, Doumanaba is holding 3 classes in the dismal building pictured below. These were built as storerooms used for grain and cotton, not as schools. We will be building 3 new classrooms for the community. Villagers will be providing the usual “in kind” contributions of land, sand and gravel, and unskilled labor, and also some cash funding for the third classroom, as our usual $15,000 contribution will build just two classrooms, plus an office, storage room, and latrines. As you can imagine, the people of Doumanaba will be very happy to trade this building for a bright new school like the others on this page.

Building in Doumanaba where children are attending school. It was originally built as a warehouse and does not have adequate light or ventilation.

Building in Doumanaba where children are attending school. It was originally built as a warehouse and does not have adequate light or ventilation.

We are grateful to all our donors, large and small; large contributions have enable us to build two schools a year for the last few years, but they would not have been possible without the support of all of you. As they say in Bambara, “Dooni dooni kononi be nyaga da” – “Little by little the bird builds its nest.”

Our benefit trail ride on August 21, 2016. We had 40 riders, who could choose to ride 7, 15, or 20 miles of beautiful woods trails, followed by a home-cooked 5 course African buffet dinner. The youngest rider (on the black horse) was only 4 years old, and she rode 15 miles. Our oldest rider was 80.

Many thanks for your support! We couldn’t do it without you.

Very best wishes for a happy holiday season and a joyful new year.

Judy Lorimer, Abou Coulibaly, Madou Traore, and Matt Heberger

View from the road of the new school in Nimporodioula, our 16th

View from the road of the new school in Nimporodioula, our 16th

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Shout out to ELF!

We’ve gotten word from ELF, the International Super Junior Fan Club,  that they will be supporting Build a School in Africa again this year. In 2015, clubs around the world raised enough to fund our 14th new school, benefiting deserving children in Mali, West Africa.

Thank you ELF! Good luck with your fundraising! The children of Mali will be so grateful for their beautiful new school!

ELF chapters around the world hope to raise enough money to build a new school dedicated to our favorite K-Pop idols.

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Brick by Brick

The Lincoln Journal, in Massachusetts, published a great article about how a group of local students is raising money to help us build schools in Africa.

Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School Africa Club members, from left, (back) Nate Bennett, Ben Yamron, Aidan Doyle, Rachel Cook (adviser), Melissa Shen (adviser), (middle) Gabby Massey, Molly Clements, Alice Clements, Sydney Wry, Larsen Henken, Lauren Mandt, Jess Puopolo, Sarah Reilly, Ceci Barnes, (front) Leanne Fitzpatrick, Anna Mae Frey, Annie Levoy, Gracie Keilen, Kenzie Madden and McShane Sneath.  COURTESY PHOTO

Since its start in 2011, Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School’s Schools for Africa Club has been fundraising to build a school in Mali, West Africa — a country with one of the lowest literacy rates on the continent.

The student-run group is trying to raise $25,000 to erect a school to accommodate more than 100 students through the nonprofit organization Build a School in Africa, which has raised funds and built a new school every year in Mali since 2005.

Read the full story here.

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Updated Brochure for Build a School in Africa!

We’ve just published a new, updated brochure about Build a School in Africa. In it, learn about how we’ve built 14 schools since 2002 and how you can help improve education for children in Mali, West Africa.

It’s designed to be a trifold, 2-sided brochure. Please download, print, or share. You can use it at fundraisers or to tell your friends about Build a School in Africa!

Download Brochure (250K PDF, updated February 2016)

Download brochure Download brochure

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2015 Year-End Update


First graders in temporary classroom in Kounfouna


Students in Kounfouna

When donating to projects like ours, people often wonder about the long-term results: will this school still exist in a few years?

During my recent visit to Mali, I had a chance to visit all the schools we have built since 2012, and am happy to report that all are flourishing. Getting a new school is a powerful instrument of change in these small rural communities.

The tiny village of Kounfouna is an outstanding example. There was no school at all until they started a first grade class in 2012. In early 2013 we built two classrooms, plus office and latrines, and when I visited in November of 2013, they had a first and second grade, with one teacher shuttling between the two classes. They still had no furniture; the children just sat on the cement floor.

Two years later, they have four teachers, grades 1-4, and have built two temporary classrooms for the younger grades; all the classrooms have desks and benches, with more stacked in the back of the rooms for future expected students. Like all the villages we visited, they would like to have us build more concrete classrooms.

Thanks to the 2nd grade Brownie troop in Westford, MA, which raised $1,000 in a school-wide Toy Sale, we donated school supplies to three schools: Kartioni,


In 2016 weʼll be building two new classrooms to replace these temporary classrooms in Nimporodioula


School supplies donated by Massachusetts Brownie Troop to three different schools

NʼGolokouna, and Gongasso, all built by BSA since early 2014. All three schools received a large dictionary, Teacherʼs Manuals for Math and Language, for grades 1-6, notebooks, several gross of pens and pencils, and 11 pounds of chalk – enough to supply them for at least 2 years.

We broke ground on Nov. 17 for our 15th school, in Tiogola, a fairly large village which already had 3 mud-brick classrooms. We will be building 2 more, and the school is already more than half finished; they are now putting on the roof.

Just before I left Mali, we met with officials in Nimporodioula, where we will be building school #16. A community of 1230, they have 162 students, 81 boys and 81 girls. They have three mud-brick classrooms, but their three temporary classrooms (above) are obviously inadequate, and we hope to build two cement classrooms early in 2016. Thanks to all our supporters for such a productive year!

Judy Lorimer, Director

Download a PDF version of our December 2015 newsletter (1 page, 270 MB).

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Thank You Super Junior Fans!

슈퍼주니어 팬들을 환영합니다! 여러분들의 성원에 감사드립니다! 이것은 많은 아프리카 소년소녀들의 삶에 커다란 변화를 주게 될 것입니다!

We are delighted that the Super Junior Global Fan Club ELF has chosen to celebrate the band’s tenth anniversary by making a gift in the band’s honor to support education in Africa. Thanks to ELF, we will be able to build a new school in the village of Tiogola, Mali this year. This incredible gift will make a big difference in the lives of so many Malian children. Thank you!

For some great coverage and reaction from the band, see this great article on the website Soompi: Super Junior’s Fans Celebrate Their 10th Anniversary Through a Gift Beyond Imagination.

And for those of you new to K-Pop, here’s a video:


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Toy Sale on April 18 in Westford, MA

Brownie Troop 86145 is helping us to stock the new school in Kartioni, Mali with school supplies by holding a charity fundraiser this month. Please come out to support the brownies and Build a School in Africa!

Toy Sale
April 18, 2015, 8:30 am to 12:30 pm
Rita E. Miller Elementary School
1 Mitchell Way
Westford, MA 01886

In addition to great bargains for a great cause, we will be raffling off loads of prizes including an iPod shuffle!

See the Facebook page for updates and more information on how to donate gently-used toys. A big thank you to LAER Realty Partners and Kidz Enterprise Toys for their support. Please contact Sarah Nolan at 978-692-9229 or with questions.

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