January 2021, Construction Bolera Elementary School

In May 2020, we wanted to start construction of the school building, with the expectation of delivering it in September 2020. The plan is for local people to build the school. The coordination would be done by an architects and volunteers from the Netherlands,. They would also provide some training, so that in the future the local people would be able to realize such a project all by themselves. The developments surrounding the spread of the coronavirus has forced us to postpone the construction until April 2021.

Now that the volunteers cannot go to Malawi, we looked at what other options were available. After much internal consultation (with the community there), we put the question to Malawi as to whether they could build the school all by themselves and arrived at a workable form, choosing to take on this project as a community with remote support from the Netherlands.

We as a board applaud construction in Malawi by the community. It is the core of development work, local ownership.


How did it continue?

Despite the postponement of construction, we have not been idle. Since our last big action, The Glass House at the end of last year, we have done a lot of work, organizational but also cultural.


A lot of hard work has been done by the volunteers in the Netherlands over the past few months. The construction drawings have been made, the specifications have been completed and enough volunteers have been found willing to support the construction in Malawi, both physically and digitally.


We have put together a cross country promotion team. This team will promote the school before and during construction. Designs have been made for painting the school, about playing attributes on the sports field and a cultural program to promote the new school. This team reinforces local ownership within the community, something people in Bolera are not used to until now. The promotional materials such as the Billboard and drawings for the school have now been completed.

Team Africa

Two agents (Prescot Thawe and Hasting Phale), who locally support the building project under the banner of Friends of Africa Foundation, are busy with all kinds of different activities. Among other things, a container has been installed to store all school materials, which is equipped with electricity, security and a 'roof'. In addition, a water pump has been drilled and the cement blocks for the school building are being manufactured.

May 2021, The first few weeks

For the first few weeks, we watched with admiration the way the Malawians rolled up their sleeves and how well communication was going. Once started, unfortunately the first challenge was already around the corner, which has to do with the effects of COVID-19. Raw material iron has increased 30% since the beginning of April, directly impacting the budget. Hastings and Prescot made every effort to reduce the price wherever possible where their negotiating power came in handy.


Population involvement

Where in the Netherlands only the builders help, a large number of village prodigies came to help make the land ready for building. From what we have seen in photos, videos and the weekly team meetings, they are incredibly driven to work and get satisfaction from this.

Summer period; "Keep on digging!"

Involvement of the population
From what we have seen in photos, videos and the fastest teams meetings, they are driven to work with us and derive satisfaction from it. One difference from many other projects being done in Malawi is that there is a sense of responsibility. The builders and people are doing this under the eye of our Hastings and Prescot. There are no Westerners present to take over part of the construction. That makes there real ownership by everyone.

Start of first period
We are currently working on the first phase, which is the foundation for the school building and sanitation facilities. What all has been accomplished is the following: a container has been built, a water pump has been struck, cement blocks have been made by hand. In recent months, the foundation has been dug, poured and all construction materials have been ordered.


We are making progress, approaching the end of phase 1!

The first phase of construction of the Bolera elementary school in Mangochi, an area in central Malawi, was completed at the end of October. The Friends for Africa Foundation is the bearer of this beautiful project, where local people built the school. In this way, Malawians' attachment to the project was strengthened and there is ownership by all. The main goal was to build the school, but attached to that was building the local community there. The coordination was done by specialists and volunteers from the Netherlands, this group partly consisting of board members are also shown in the pictures below 

Preparation, start, completion

From preparation to start
In the 2016-2017 school year, we started preparing for this project. We wanted to go there the previous years, but due to corona it did not succeed. So we chose a different approach. namely the directional approach with digital support. We had a good steering committee of three locals in Malawi, with whom we work well. One of them has also become the director of the school, Numeri Ludzu. Also in the Netherlands, we had a good steering committee and a construction team that could support the people there. Architect Jan Gerard Koelewijn was the chairman of the construction team. He was in daily contact with his team in the Netherlands and with the people in Malawi


School building

As can be seen in the picture, all the work has led to the realization of the drawing. This building will soon help about 1,500 children structurally build a future!

Grand opening!

We started constructionr at the beginning of April and the first phase will open at the end of October 2021. We deliberately name the first phase because when a building is there and the roof is closed it can be opened. That's tradition there. We digitally attended the opening. There was a whole program from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. with sports, games, tour, dance, song and drama and various speeches. One of our members was physically present there and congratulated and addressed the people on behalf of the Friends for Africa Foundation.
The school is open, but not yet ready to be put into production. Some things still need to be completed, such as:

  • Finishing school rooms, consider painting.
  • Installation and commissioning of solar energy
  • Realization water pump

A lot of time will be put into this over the next few months to actually start running as a school in February!

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