Here are a few recent photos of schools we’ve helped build in Mali, West Africa. The generosity of you, our donors, has made this possible. Thank you!
Dear Build a School in Africa supporters,
This past year has presented many challenges. With the Covid-19 pandemic, a tumultuous political climate in the US, and a coup in Mali in August, you might expect that BSA’s projects in 2020 would have come to a halt. Nevertheless, we built 3 more schools this year, bringing our total to 26 new schools since 2005.
Early in 2020, a two-room school was built in Zangabougou, financed primarily by the Schools for Africa Club at Lincoln/Sudbury Regional High School in Massachusetts, followed by another two-room school in Fantala, funded mostly by a California tech company which has helped us build several schools in recent years. Additional funding to complete the schools was provided by numerous individual donations from our generous supporters.
Our most ambitious project yet, a three room middle school , including electricity and water hookups and teaching supplies and materials, was completed in Mancourani B, a neighborhood in the city of Sikasso. We have built the vast majority of our schools in small rural villages, but the Mancourani schools were dramatically overcrowded, and we were happy to be able to provide three additional classrooms to solve the problem.
A family foundation that has built several other schools in partnership with us provided all the funding. The school was finished just as the Covid-19 pandemic had reached Mali. We were concerned about construction workers carrying the virus back to their home villages or neighborhoods, so they were required to avoid public transportation and take other social distancing precautions; the school was finished safely in June.
We remain in frequent contact with our partners in Mali. Until the fall months, Co-Vid had not created catastrophic cascade of infection and mortality you might expect, given the crowded living conditions and multi-generational family structures. But Abou writes,” Recently the pandemic is unfortunately progressing, and we are now experiencing a second surge, which is growing quickly in densely-populated Bamako; schools are now closed.”
He adds, “We have two more villages on our waiting list, Kintieri and Tionso, and hope to build at least one of them this year. If we can secure the funding, we can build safely by integrating safety protection measures and policies during the building process.”
The village of Kintieri has had a primary school since the 1980s which is supported by the community members. The middle school was created in 1993 with 3 classrooms built by the community, but it does not meet government standards and is small and overcrowded. Most of the children entering grade 7 must move to another village in order to continue their education.
The village of Tionso has some old-style mud-brick classrooms for their 441 students – 204 girls and 237 boys. Community leaders would like to build three concrete block classrooms to improve the working and learning conditions that presently exist, as the mud-brick schools also do not meet government standards and are too small, as well as dark and stuffy, with poor lighting and air circulation. This could be a serious problem if the Covid virus reaches the village.
We hope that you all have been able to stay safe and healthy during the past harrowing year, and can maintain good health in 2021 as well. Let’s hope that the end of the pandemic is in sight.
Sending you best wishes for the holidays,
Judy Lorimer, Madou Traore, Abou Coulibaly, and Matthew Heberger
Our 26th school is now complete! We recently completed construction of a 3-room middle school for grades 7, 8, and 9 in Mancourani B, a neighborhood in Sikasso, Mali’s second largest city. This is our first school in an urban setting; the majority of our schools have been built in small rural communities.
Dear Build a School in Africa supporters,
In 2002, Kyla McKenna, a senior at the Bromfield School in Harvard, Massachusetts, founded Build a School in Africa as her senior Humanities project, and asked me to mentor her efforts. Our goal was to raise enough money to help build one school in Mali, West Africa. We raised almost $10,000 the first year of the program, with other students taking over in succeeding years. We built our first school in 2005, and just kept going! We are now proud to announce that our 23rd school, a three room primary school in Zandiela, is almost finished, and we are planning to break ground for the 24th school in Zangabougou, funded largely by Lincoln- Sudbury High School’s “Schools for Africa” club, in January 2020.
In January of 2019, we started off the year by building two new classrooms in Tabacoro, financed primarily by a California tech company, to replace two mud brick classrooms that collapsed during heavy rains in August of 2018. Students there now have two sturdy concrete block classrooms, a substantial improvement over the dark and disintegrating mud brick rooms that fell apart.
Our benefit trail ride this August was very successful; forty-three riders followed a marked trail through conservation land and private trails, with a choice of 7 or 14 miles, followed by a home-cooked African buffet dinner. Co-sponsored by the Littleton Horse Owners Association, a large portion of the profits were donated to Build a School in Africa.
I did not go to Mali this year–I had long-delayed home improvement projects to deal with. But in October, in the capable hands of our Malian partners, Abou Coulibaly and Mamadou Traore, we started construction on a new primary school in Zandiela, financed by the same generous family that built classrooms in Kodialanida (2017) and Danzana (2018). The new school will have solar lights in one of the classrooms, plus much-needed school supplies. Maps and globes are standard in American classrooms, but sadly lacking in many Malian schools.
We have several more communities on our waiting list: Fantala and Ifola rural villages, and Mancourani B, in a more urban setting in Sikasso. We’re not likely to run out of communities in need of schools any time soon…
Many thanks and very best wishes to all our supporters for the holidays and the New Year!
Judy Lorimer, Mamadou Traore, Abou Coulibaly, and Matthew Heberger
We’re just $1,000 short of what we need to build two new classrooms, latrines, and an office/storage building in village of Zangabougou in southern Mali.
Zangabougou will be our 23rd school! Please consider making a year-donation to help us break ground.
Because we are a small, all-volunteer organization, all donations go 100% to school construction.
The past year has been another very successful one for this small, all-volunteer organization. A year ago, we started construction on our 18th and 19th schools, in Kodialanida and Nolabougou, which were completed in late winter; our 20th, in N’Dalle, was completed later in the spring.
On my recent visit to Mali, we visited all three schools, and found all were doing well. N’Dalle now has enough classrooms for grades one through nine, but Kodialanida and Nolabougou would like to have enough cement-block classrooms for grades 1 – 6.
In the community of Danzana, construction of a three-room middle school was well under way. Construction is expected to be completed by late February or early March; the walls are up already; the roof will go on next week.
The family that funded three classrooms last year in Kodialanida has also fully funded the school in Danzana, including solar panels to provide lighting for evening studies, adult literacy classes, homework, and community meetings. They also donated $1,000 for classroom supplies: maps and globes for each classroom, dictionaries, both English and French, science charts and posters, teachers’ manuals for all subjects, and much more.Continue reading
Dear Build a School in Africa supporters – I’m happy to share with you a few photos from Director Judy Lorimer’s visit to Mali in November 2017. Judy helped start construction of two new schools in the villages of Kodialanida and Nolabougou, visited several schools we had built since 2011, and visited two communities that have requested funding for new schools.
The two schools begun in November are now completed and in operation. Since then, we have also begun construction of a new school in the village of N’Dalen.
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.
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.
In 16 days, the walls of Kodialanida’s new school were up to the tops of the windows.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 www.wigigo.com, or try downloading the app:
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.