“Anyone who thinks they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room.”
Building schools for Africa (BSFA) is a small UK registered charity, started in 2007 by four friends who all live on the Isle of Wight. The charity was initially created to raise funds for one school after being inspired by a trip to work with SHUMAS, now our partner, in Cameroon. Astonishingly, the original target funds were exceeded in a few months and we decided to keep supporting the school building programme as long as funds kept coming in.
We started to raise funds to replace crumbling and dangerous school buildings at remote rural village schools in Cameroon, with durable, hygienic and weatherproof classroom blocks and new latrines.
As our understanding of rural communities in Cameroon grew so did the scope of our projects because there are many factors that contribute to getting a child into a classroom. This not only includes the health of the pupils themselves but also those of their families and wider community. The building and provisioning of health centres became an obvious need as was the provision of clean water sources.
2016 saw the start of a political crisis in the country which has escalated into war between English-speaking secessionists and the mainly French-speaking government. This has had a profound impact on the communities within the war zone with all schools closed, villages destroyed and almost a million people (mainly women and children) being displaced. They have been traumatised and disempowered by losing their homes, incomes and family members. Since then the focus of our work has inevitably shifted towards helping the Internally Displaced People (IDP) regain their livelihoods and thus be able to send their children to school again.
Since 2007 we have helped thousands of children get a good education (see our impact report) and we are determined to ensure that this continues despite the current challenging circumstances.
Building hope for the future
We believe there are many people like us who wish to contribute something of our wealth to benefit others.
We provide a safe and reliable conduit for people who want to help African children aspire to a brighter future, through access to a good education and improved health.
Despite our original modest ambitions, momentum grew so quickly that, to date, we have funded the construction of classroom blocks at over 100 schools, secondary school science labs.
Other projects have included a river bridge allowing isolated children safe access to school, an accommodation block for young disabled trainees, more than 17 village health centre projects and numerous water projects.
From the beginning, an informal partnership was established with Cameroon NGO Strategic Humanitarian Services (SHUMAS) and that exclusive partnership continues to this date. Projects are chosen by SHUMAS based on extensive needs assessment analysis and feasibility studies. SHUMAS also procures the required materials, motivates local communities to participate in projects, manages these projects and carries out long term monitoring and evaluation. As part of this process, a set of reports and comprehensive budgets are submitted to BSFA for every project that is funded by our donors.