Why We Do This: Lilongwe, Malawi

Last summer we did a project with the City of Pittsfield, Mass. and Skanska USA. Skanska was the Owner’s Project Manager overseeing construction of a new vocational high school for Pittsfield. Skanska’s responsibilities encompassed demolition of the existing structure, including disposition of all furnishings.

Skanska was able to auction most of the vocational education equipment, but there remained nearly 3,000 unneeded and unwanted pieces of classroom, professional, and other furnishings, piled into the gym, the cafeteria, and clogging the halls of the old school. Skanska’s FF&E project manager John Bona knew about IRN, and he called.

Taconic High School, Pittsfield, MA. Student desks piled up, with nowhere to go.

K-12 school furnishings are among the most highly sought-after inventories for our charitable partners. Education represents the best route out of poverty for tens of millions of children, but it’s hard to get an education sitting on the floor, or writing on a wood pallet in your lap. Our partner World Vision welcomed the Taconic High School inventory, which they divided among recipients in five impoverished or war-torn countries: Haiti, El Salvador, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mauritania, and Malawi.

Let pictures speak for themselves. These are from a school in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, in south-central Africa. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. America’s per capita income is $60,000/person/year. Malawi’s is $1,200. This school received about 500 desks and other items from Taconic High School.

Are those used and unwanted desks from Pittsfield making a difference with a second life in a new home? Yes, they sure are.

Click here for a case study of the Skanska USA / Pittsfield project