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The history of Build A School

19 August 2010 8,788 views No Comment


Build A School was formed in 2007 with a focus on building classroom blocks in Malawi. The team has grown and continued to work with partners to fund school buildings in both Malawi and India.


The trustees helped drive the charity’s vision in sustainable education and Build A School has grown it’s team of technical advisers and volunteer fundraisers. Build A School partnered the Department for International Development to build an urban project in Lilongwe. Build A School also partnered HSBC in a school build project in Vizag, India. In December a fundraising office was opened in Brighton, East Sussex.


Build A School opened two fair trade shops to provide a sustainable platform for the charity. In April a main office was established in Canterbury, Kent.


Build A School formed a partnership with Southminster, Pittsburg to construct a project at St. Andrews, Mulanje, Malawi.  This is a huge venture that will bring vital education to this area in the south of the country.

Build A School has commenced construction of the Tickbird Visitor Centre in Lilongwe and has established new fair trade products for the surrounding community.  The Centre will provide education on sustainability and fair trade and help showcase these new fair trade products to local people.

2010 saw Ann Page join the team as the UK Coordinator for Build A School.  Her main roles are fundraising, preventing Luke from constantly distracting himself (and others!) and supplying office cake and jelly tots.

A third Shared Earth fair trade shop was opened in Maidstone, Kent.  This fair trade business helps support the charity.

Confirmation that we have received funding for another double block classroom in Malawi.  Location tba, watch this space!


Build A School completed their third double classroom block at Ngwenya Primary School in Lilongwe, funded by DialAFlight.  Visit to Malawi made by the DialAFlight sponsorship team to attend the opening ceremony.

Fundraising ongoing for additional classroom blocks and an administration block at Mbelekete Primary School, Dowa District, Malawi.

Continuation of funding for maintenance and school materials for India schools with key corporate donor HSBC.

Funding secured for a women’s essential oil co-operative to be formed at the Tickbird Sustainable Living Education Site and workshop constructed.  Training commenced.

Long term visit to Malawi by Paul Richards (Architect/Trustee) to progress school construction and essential oil projects.

Visit to Malawi by Stephen Abrahams (Loop Computer Reuse) to establish key contacts with electrical and commuication partners for the Tickbird Sustainable Living Visitor Centre.

Visits to Malawi by Ann Page (UK Co-ordinator) to report on project progress.

Relocation of charity office to Smarden, Kent to enable Ann Page (UK Co-ordinator) to work closely with Bruce Dolby (Sustainable Development Education Advisor).

Relocation of Luke Dolby (Chairman) to USA to open new office and establish additional fundraising stream.

Grant application submitted to Big Lottery for women’s essential oil co-operative project successfully reached Stage 2 and awaiting outcome….


Commencement of additional works at Mbelekete Primary School to complete teacher houses, refurbishment and construction of pit latrines and classroom decoration with support from corporate donor DialAFlight.

Design and architectural plans underway for the construction of a double classroom block, teacher’s house and pit latrines at Kalumba Village Primary School in Lilongwe.

Continuation with key corporate donor HSBC to support funding for education projects in India through the annual HSBC Triathlon event.

Stage 2 of the Big Lottery application/business plan successful and three year project grant awarded for the Tickbird women’s essential oil co-operative.

Construction of training shelter at the women’s co-operative workshop completed and construction of compost toilets and well at the Tickbird Sustainable Living Education site commenced.

Installation of electricity underway at the Tickbird Sustainable Living Education Site.

Quality Control and Distillation training for the women’s co-operative members completed in Malawi by Bruce Dolby, Consultant Chemist.  Initial soap making training also competed.

Essential oil crops growing with companion cropping being practised.  Sample nurseries set up at Msampha village and the Tickbird Sustainable Living Education Site.

Strong relationship formed between Build A School, Recycle and The Salvation Army.  Bikes purchased for the women’s co-operative project via Recycle.

Build A School team visit to Malawi in June 2012 to report on progress of the essential oil project.

New Chairman (Paul Richards) and new Accountant (Paul Papworth-Smith) appointed for the charity.


Completion of additional works at Mbelekete Primary School funded by DialAFlight and ongoing fundraising activities via UK schools for the future construction of additional classroom blocks and an administration block.

Completion of construction at Kalumba Village Primary School of a double classroom block, teacher’s house and pit latrines, funded by a legacy donor, followed by a successful handover/opening ceremony hosted by Kalumba Village Chief.

Partnership formed between Build A School and global organisation (Educating Girls Globally) to raise funds specifically for construction at Lilongwe Girls School.  Initial construction to include pit latrines and security wall extension, due to commence early 2014.

Continuation of corporate partnership and fundraising with HSBC.  Official charity for the HSBC Triathlon held in September.

Continuation of the women’s essential oil co-operative project at the Tickbird Sustainable Living Education Site, Lilongwe, funded by the three year UK Big Lottery Grant.

Increase of essential oil planting (Lemongrass, Marjoram, Rosemary, Thyme and Vetiver) and companion cropping at the Tickbird Sustainable Living Education Site for the women’s essential oil co-operative.  Regular essential oil distillations taking place.

Completion of the compost toilets and well construction at the Tickbird Sustainable Living Education Site – awaiting electricity installation.

Additional work commenced in women’s co-operative workshop to provide shelving, office space and specific soap making area.

Continuation of soap making training with successful feedback and regular soap making underway at the workshop.  Initial soap packaging concept designed and local markets identified.

Relocation of Ann Page (UK Co-ordinator) to Malawi to support the team and assist with driving the projects forward.

New Trustees appointed for the charity – Chris Arnold and Jess Green.


Ongoing fundraising for the construction of a single block classroom at Mbelekete Primary School.

Construction commenced at Lilongwe Girls School funded by global organisation based in New Zealand (Educating Girls Globally).  Successful completion of two 4-hole pit latrines and extension of the security wall.

Third and final year of the UK Big Lottery grant project to establish an independent essential oil co-operative at the Tickbird Sustainable Living Education Site, Lilongwe.  Farmers fully trained in growing and distilling the essential oil crops and Group working towards their formal co-operative registration from the Ministry of Industry and Trade.  Each member of Group have own piece of land at their family home to enable them to grow their own lemongrass and vetiver which can be sold back to the Group/Tickbird for distillation, together with their companion crops.

Tickbird soap making initiative very successful – essential oil soap extremely popular with orders received both locally and internationally. Guest soap and packaging designed and orders from lodges received.


Tickbird soap marketing trip throughout Malawi undertaken to establish viability and demand at the lodges, hotels and retail outlets in the country for the co-operative.  Samples of Tickbird guest soaps distributed and orders received from the lodges.  Future marketing trip to South Luangwa, Zambia also planned due to the high level of tourism present there.

Distillations taking place continuously – essential oil still shelter completed allowing more space in the workshop to be used for soap making.  Equipment donated by the Visionary Soap Company in the UK.

Completion of the UK Big Lottery grant project and co-operative working independently.  The Ministry of Industry and Trade formally registered “The Tickbird Producers and Marketing Co-operative Society Limited” – officially the first and only essential oil co-operative in Malawi. Tea and gift shop established at the Tickbird site and Open Day held.

Continuation of fundraising by Educating Girls Globally in New Zealand.  Potential opportunity to assist Ludzi Girls Secondary School with the construction of a teacher’s house (Spring 2016) being investigated.

Fundraising ongoing for an administration block and library at Kalumba Primary School, Lilongwe with a goal to commence construction mid 2016.

Majority of charity administrative operations transferred to Build A School Malawi (registered NGO) to allow for lower overheads in the UK and more funds to be spent directly on the projects in Malawi.


Completion of administration block at Kalumba Primary School using, for our first time, the rammed earth method of construction. Funds donated by the LSA Technology and Performing Arts College, the Chestfield Masonic Lodge in Whitstable, Kent, UK and Mr Ian Bilik.

Ongoing fundraising for a library to be constructed adjacent to the administration block at Kalumba Primary School.

Construction commenced of a girl’s hostel at Kabuthu Community Day Secondary School, approximately 45 minutes outside of Lilongwe, funded by Educating Girls Globally.

The hostel will help alleviate the current alarming high drop out rate for initially approximately 40 girls at the school due to cultural and work pressures, long distances to travel to school and the problems they are facing related to rented accommodation such as poor sanitation and lack of security.  It will enable the focus to be on the girl’s education and their welfare.


Successful completion of Phase 1 of the girl’s hostel at Kabuthu Community Day Secondary School.   Handover ceremony took place on 23rd October and the girls are now happily settled in their new rooms.  Our donors, Educating Girls Globally (EGG), are continuing to fundraise for the construction of Phase 2 of the hostel to commence which will include the addition of two rooms, extension of the roof and a kitchen shelter.

Construction commenced of the completion of a small classroom block at Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Dowa, Malawi also funded by Educating Girls Globally (https://www.educatinggirls.world)

Ann Page, Co-ordinator, invited to join and accepted a Board position at Atisikana Pa Ulendo (Girls on the Move) Girls Secondary School, Lilongwe (http://www.malawigirlsonthemove.com)