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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Great News! Funding for New Schools

Good news –we just got an e-mail from the tech company which donated $10,000 toward the school at N’Golokouna last year; they are donating another $10,000, which combined with the $5,000 that we are expecting from a family foundation in CA (which wishes to remain anonymous) will give us enough to build school #14, located in Gongasso. These two villages, plus Kartioni, are all in the Kapala commune, which borders Burkina Faso.

Our Malian ground team, Abou and Madou, visited Kartioni, site of #13, last Saturday and the bags of cement were delivered, (photos below) so they will start building immediately. They also visited Gongasso and met with the chief and village elders and took pictures of their present 3 classrooms — two dingy  mud-brick  rooms and one temporary shelter with straw mat walls and roof.  As soon as we get both checks, the funds will be wired to Mali and they can start building in Gongasso as well.

Unloading cement for Kartioni

Unloading cement for Kartioni

Unloading cement for Kartioni Part 2

Unloading cement for Kartioni – Part 2

Mud Brick classroom in Gongasso

Mud Brick classroom in Gongasso

Temporary classroom in Gongasso

Temporary classroom in Gongasso


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2014 Year-End Newsletter

Dear Build a School in Africa Supporters,

School #12 in N'Golokouna

School #12 in N’Golokouna

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.

Summer 2014 Trail Ride

Summer 2014 Trail Ride

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 LoDSC01490rimer, 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

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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.

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How do we fund new school buildings in Africa?

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 good teachers, books, etc. But a clean, dry place to learn is a necessary component. It is also easier to recruit and retain teachers if they have a bright and airy new classrooms in which to teach.

So 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.

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New School Construction Underway in Ngolokouna

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.

The two existing mud-brick classrooms in Ngolokouna. As you can see in the top and bottom photos, the windows are very small, so the rooms are dark and stuffy, and get very hot during the day.

Poor latrines for girls and boys. These do not have sealed tanks, so they can contaminate drinking water supplies if they are too near a well. The latrines BSA builds have concrete pits to protect local water sources.

Grade 5 classroom

Grades 1 and 3


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Year-End Newsletter

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.New School in Konfouna, Mali

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.

New School in Konfouna, MaliSince 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.

New School in Konfouna, MaliFundraising 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.

New School in Konfouna, MaliFor 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

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Close to Fundraising Goal for School #11

We are pleased to announce that our next school building project will be in Kongoliko, Mali, a small village between Bougouni and Sikasso.  We’ve almost reached our fundraising goal — right now we have $14,500 — just about $500 short of our annual $15,000 goal.

If you’ve thought about giving in the past, now would be a great time! We just need a $500 boost to put us over the top!

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