Since I visited my friend’s schools outside of N'Djamena I have been looking for ways to help out. The first school we visited only had short-walled buildings with a tin roof that blew off in a recent wind storm and was in great need of repair. The second school had a couple nice buildings, including a smaller two-room building that was built by a contractor for $10,000 USD and a larger three-room building constructed for the same budget but built by the local community. I found a couple grant options for building schools but also discovered that the process isn’t so easy. For example, my grant sources could give me small pots of money (less than $15,000) quite easily but there were all kinds of stipulations. For example, I couldn’t buy materials and have the community build a school, but I had to hire a contractor to provide the materials and labor. The bigger problem was that the grant source required for all the construction to be done to US or International standards, which greatly increased the price of the project. So now the school that would have cost $15,000 built with local labor to Chadian standards would now cost $250,000. The benefit of the higher cost is that the building should last longer but problems included the length of construction process, more extensive application process, and the applications for my grant source are only accepted once a year and then if selected the funds would only become available 18 months later. So the process of building a school now is a two to three year process and the cost is 16-times more expensive.
Constructing schools are still worthy projects and I will try to have a couple proposals ready for when my grant source starts accepting applications again. Unfortunately I won’t be around to see the fruits of the grants and construction process, but in the end the Chadian kids and communities will ultimately benefit. The smaller $15,000 grants are available for other small projects but always with the caveat that the projects have to be done to US/International standards. We can dig a well for that dollar amount, but before funds will be released we need to have a hydrological study for the area and there is no funding for the hydrological study. Maybe I can see if a local orphanage needs beds or supplies as I can spend the $15,000 funds on small projects like this.
The main requirements for these grant funds are that they don’t single out or benefit only one special group, be done to international standards, and fall into at least one of the following four categories. (1) Disaster risk reduction, mitigation, or preparedness, (2) health related projects and activities, (3) education support, and (4) basic infrastructure. Any ideas?