Local Nonprofit Turns to Crowdfunding to Help Build Primary School in West Africa

Mar 3, 2015

A prototype of the primary school to be built in Burkina Faso.
Credit For Burkina / Benjamin Hall

Burkina Faso is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, with literacy rates at 28.7 percent. To help boost these rates and make education more accessible, a Springfield nonprofit organization called For Burkina recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund a three-classroom primary school, which when completed will serve more than 130 children. KSMU’s Julie Greene has more.

For Burkina started about a year ago by Drury University’s Hammons School of Architecture graduates Brittany Layton and Benjamin Hall. Layton read a book written by the founder of an international nonprofit called buildOn. The two then reached out to the organization, and were inspired to design the prototype for all of the buildOn schools in the West African countries of Burkina Faso and Mali.

“It’s unique in the sense that we just created it. We were just looking for something to do and we made the right phone calls and did it,” Hall said.

Over time, Brittany and Benjamin’s project morphed into the nonprofit For Burkina, which is now comprised of a total of 13 young professionals and students, many of whom are Drury students or graduates.

“Knowing what to do and actually doing it is part of the exciting part and I think what makes it unique because there’s a lot of people out there who would like to do similar stuff, but they just don’t take that first step, and really, that’s all it takes—just saying you’re going to do it and then doing it,” said Hall.

Benjamin Hall, For Burkina’s co-founder and director of Business Initiatives, says that when they were designing the prototype, they made sure to pay attention to the context of the area so that the design accurately reflected the culture and the climate of Burkina Faso. He added that this project is particularly important because it shows what the power of design can do as a tool for social change, noting the school is in an area that needs it the most.

Inside the school
Credit For Burkina / Benjamin Hall

“It’s just been rewarding to be in contact with the people in Burkina Faso to just learn about the culture. Just to know that the kids who need it most really in the world are receiving a quality school that it’s, in our opinion, a dignified design that reflects their culture and even more so, their climate,” said Hall.

“It’s really cool to see architecture have that direct effect on people because you feel like you have to go about it in a round-about way to see how your work can pay off, but I feel like I’ve had a hands-on direct role in this whole process,” said Snell.

Olivia Snell, 4th year architecture student at Drury University, is one of the team members on the For Burkina project. She heard about the project while studying abroad last May and immediately knew she wanted to get involved.

“I’ve always been really interested in that side of architecture, and I just didn’t know how to get more involved with that, and when I heard about the For Burkina cause, that was the perfect opportunity to get more involved and to really make that kind of impact,” said Snell.

Credit For Burkina / Benjamin Hall

For Burkina says it needs $32,000 total to build the first school. Through different fundraisers, it’s already raised $15,000. Beginning February 25, the organization turned to crowdfunding to obtain the remaining $17,000.

A link for more details can be found here.