I tweeted about this, but here are more details. Basically, Positech has had some pretty successful years, and we thought it would be cool to make a decent charitable donation and ‘do something good’ in the world. I’ve always been a fan of the idea of sending charity where its needed, dispassionately, rather than supporting a charity because an issue has directly affected you, or its local to you. I’m sure the nearest school to me would welcome a charitable donation, but regardless how ‘struggling’ such a school would be, it will have a proper floor, walls, windows, running water, and chairs for people to sit on. Not so everywhere.

Which brings me to the charity ‘Building Schools for Africa‘. I found them by googling, frankly, and after some digging and investigating, decided they were ideal. What I like about it, is that you don’t just send ‘some money’ into a general pot. You can actually pay for a whole school, the whole shebang, and its like ‘your’ project. In this case, the local community supply some manual labour, and I think they bake the bricks, and all the design, carpentry, construction and technical stuff gets paid for by the sponsor. In this case Me/Positech.

The school in question will be in the village of Mbalengue  in the East Region of Cameroon. The current school illustrates exactly how much they need a decent one:

school1

The village has 250 people, (the school will also cater to two nearby villages), and has no clean water and no electricity. To quote the report on the current school: “5 benches in the school. Children sit five per bench and it still not enough, others sit on sticks”. The ‘blackboard’ is just a bit of wood they draw on.

What appeals to me about this sort of project is that your money goes really, really far. The plan is for this school to have 3 new classrooms, an office , 3 tables, 27 benches, drinking water, and a proper toilet. The contrast between what they will have, and their current school is massive. And doing this cost notably less than my last car.  This will, to quote the study again “Promote and provide basic education to an anticipated population of 150 poor peasant Students, thus enabling the Students and their families a brighter and more equitable future.”

Thats something I can say ‘I did’. I’m extremely proud of the game design of Democracy 3, and the graphics engine of Gratuitous Space Battles 2. I’m also proud I taught quite a few people their first steps on the guitar when I was younger, but lets be honest its all just trivia compared to helping 150 kids education. And thats 150 at any one time. This school will be around for ages.

Finished schools look more like this: (From their website)

school2

Anyway…it will take ages to get the school built, but the charity already blogged about it, so I think its fine to at least announce it now. Eventually I’ll get pictures of the school under construction and I’ll share those here too. I’ve never been to Africa, let alone Cameroon, and as I don’t fly much, I probably never will, so seeing pictures & video will be as close as I get. I’m definitely going to frame a picture of the finished school on my office wall though.

Anyway, I don’t want to come over all ‘I do a lot of work for charity mate, but I don’t like to talk about it‘. I’m blogging it mostly because if people in a similar position to me are considering something similar, I thought it would be helpful to post about my own experience. Building a school like this costs about £18k. I’ve no idea if you get any tax benefits for doing so, YMMV.

11 Responses to “Positech Games is building a school in Africa”

  1. olivier says:

    This is really cool.

  2. Frederik says:

    Good job, it will make a world of a difference for a lot of people :-)

  3. basar says:

    you are an awesome person

  4. Hunter says:

    Good work. 18K sounds pretty good. I do similar work with an Australian NGO (that I set up) and we can often build a room (but not a whole school) for $5K using volunteer labor. So that seems excellent value on the whole.

  5. Steven says:

    Good on ya man. That’s awesome!

  6. A Lyle says:

    Pathetic self-loathing white altruism. Instead of working to alleviate poverty or fix social problems in your own country you take your energies to a foreign cesspool where it guaranteed to be squandered, just as the last trillions have been squandered there by all the Western nations in the last 5 decades.

    Pathological white-guilt-ridden bleeding-hearts.

  7. Craig says:

    Good work! That really is awesome!

    Your 18k really goes a long way down there, it builds a whole school for a few communities. Back home it would only be enough money to pay a couple years of property taxes for an animal shelter, or enough to pay a civil servants salary for a few months.

  8. Jarmo says:

    Good job, Cliff! Helping people to strive for a better future, that’s sure to benefit the community around the school for decades to come. A great idea. It should also be noted that it speaks well of you that you choose to spend disposable income on this instead of a luxury car or donuts covered in gold leaf for dessert.

  9. Andy Brice says:

    Brilliant. I’ve been thinking about ways I could be more philanthropic, but I (perhaps selfishly) don’t want to just throw my money into a vast charity bucket and never see the results. I could donate to local UK charities and try to get involved, but a few thousand pounds doesn’t really go far in the UK. Your approach sounds like a possible solution to my quandary. My worry would be that a substantial portion of my hard earned cash would end up in some local officials back pocket. Is there anything you can do to prevent that? Or is it just a risk you are prepared to take?

    • cliffski says:

      its always a worry, but in this case you do get a breakdown of exactly where all the money goes, and also some of the charity organizers make regular trips to the country to check on the progress of everything. Ultimately there is an element of trust involved, as well as I guess just picking a country that has less corruption.

      • Andy Brice says:

        I am very interested in doing something like this. I would love to hear how you get on. Please keep me posted, either via the blog or email me direct.

        I wonder if someone is doing something similar in Nepal? Its a beautiful country with amazing people, but they have had a terrible time with an underperforming government, a crazy royal family, civil war and then the earthquake. They need all the help they can get.