Beng Community Fund (BCF)

Update, Dec. 2023: If you’d like to support education in Bengland via the Beng Community Fund (a non-profit organization we established to provide sustainable assistance to the Beng community), we have created a GoFundMe campaign — you can make a tax-deductible contribution via the link here.

19 September 2018:

I’m delighted to announce that the Beng Community Fund has supported construction of housing for all six teachers in the Beng village of Kosangbé/Kossandougou. The BCF supplied most of the building materials (sand, cement, doors, windows, locks), while the villagers provided the roof and all the labor.

This open-air, thatched-roof structure served as the kitchen for the village’s teachers from 2009-18, until the construction of new teacher housing that was just completed, with funds supplied by the BCF.

Until 2009, any children from this tiny village in the rain forest whose parents allowed them to begin elementary school had to attend a school in another village several miles away. Given the lack of buses or other efficient transportation, this situation required students (typically from the age of six years old) to relocate to another village during the school week, only returning home on weekends.

A view of Kosangbé from 1980 (photo by Philip Graham)

In 2009, the government finally built an elementary school in Kosangbé. For the next four years, the school boasted a few teachers, two indoor classrooms for some students, and  thatched-roof, open-air classrooms for the remaining students. With time, more teachers arrived to cover all grade levels. But with this welcome development came a problem: a shortage of housing for the larger number of teachers. Until suitable housing could be offered, teachers fled the village, and different-grade classes had to double up, thanks to the lack of a sufficient number of instructors.

In December 2017, the BCF committed to constructing new housing for teachers. Two multi-bedroom buildings were envisioned, each accommodating two to three (same-gender) teachers.

An early phase of BCF-funded construction of one residence (January 2018). 

Work on the two new buildings continued from January 2018 through September 2018.

A two-bedroom house constructed with BCF-supplied funds (January 2018)

Both units have just been completed.  Please enjoy this set of photos of the construction process!

View from afar of one unit (September 2018)

Despite the challenge of open-air classrooms and an insufficient number of teachers, students from this modest village remained exceptionally motivated and organized. From 2013-17, an impressive 100% of students in the final year of Kosangbé’s elementary school (the “CM2” year, in the French-based educational system) passed their end-of-the-year exams, qualifying them to continue on to junior high school.

With the beginning of the new academic year around the corner, we wish all students and teachers in Kosangbé a wonderful school year.

Detail of the front door of one unit (September 2018)

Meanwhile, many thanks to the members of the BCF Board of Directors (Pamela Feldman-Savelsberg, Renée Giovarelli, Charles Piot, Carolyn Rouse, and Cynthia Williams), the BCF Secretary (Juliana Snarski), and BCF Co-founders and Co-directors (Philip Graham and Alma Gottlieb) for the conversations that led to this project; and, especially, to our Abidjan-based BCF Correspondent, Bertin Kouakou KOUADIO, for having helped organize and coordinate the project.

Back of a three-bedroom teacher house in Kosangbé, complete in September 2018


14 June 2016:

I’m delighted to announce that the BCF has now achieved 501 (c) (3) status from the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  This means that all donations to the BCF are now legally tax-deductible in the US.  To take advantage of this exciting new development, we’ll soon establish an online donation portal via Paypal.  Stay tuned!


The Beng Community Fund (BCF) is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization that aims to benefit the Beng community in Cote d’Ivoire. Funds of the NGO may be used for a variety of community projects, including housing needs, sanitation improvements, educational programs, and other community efforts, as agreed upon by relevant members of the Beng community. Such development projects aim to help the Beng retain the vitality of their rich cultural traditions while offering advantages of modern technology, with an emphasis on local sustainability. Funds to be used for these purposes include proceeds from the books, Parallel Worlds and Braided Worlds, by Alma Gottlieb and Philip Graham, as well as funds donated by individuals and groups for the purpose.

Girl at Kosangbé Water Pump

The photo above illustrates one project we have been able to support with royalties from Parallel Worlds and Braided Worlds. In 1993-94, we donated funds from royalties for Parallel Worlds to provide repairs to this village pump–the only reliable source of clean water for the village. The repairs increased the pump’s water output and enabled girls and women to pump water far more easily. In 2013, royalty funds from Braided Worlds bought new repairs to the pump that had become severely degraded over the previous twenty years.