How an Apartment in Sweden Became a School in Malawi

When Emil Wasteson bought an apartment in Sweden, he had no idea it would also come with a school in Malawi.

But five years after Emil, a graduate student at Linköping University, bought his flat, its value has increased to the point that he’ll be seeing a healthy profit when he graduates and sells the apartment this spring. Instead of splurging on himself, Emil has more altruistic plans — building a school in a place where education is needed most.

“I think I’ve had a privilege to afford to buy an apartment, I’ve lived very well for almost five years, and to get rewarded from that and get even more money feels pretty strange, almost absurd,” Emil says. “There’s so many people who need the money more than I do, and I try to do a small part to correct the poorly distributed wealth in the world. It’s not a lot on the big scale, but everyone can do something, so this is my part.”

When deciding what he wanted to do with the money, it was clear to Emil that he wanted to use it to provide education. His connection with education runs deep — he’s taught courses himself at Linköping University, taught English to young students in Palestine, and his mother is also a teacher.

TeachingEmil teaching English to Palestinian students in the West Bank.

“My mom is a Swedish teacher for refugees and other people throughout Sweden. I see people who know no Swedish at all, some of them don’t know the alphabet, and to see the development of them and see what it does for them as a person, seeing the power of education — that made quite an impression on me,” Emil explains.

Having read Walk in Their Shoes by buildOn’s Founder & CEO Jim Ziolkowski, Emil was familiar with buildOn’s mission. He did more research before ultimately deciding to put the money toward the construction of a school in rural Malawi, a small East African country with some of the world’s highest poverty and lowest rates of literacy, where buildOn has constructed more than 200 schools.

“There were three things that attracted me to buildOn. The first thing is the long term strategy—to have a lot of contact with the villages and both include villages and local people from the government in the process,” Emils says. “The second thing is that there are 50 percent girls and 50 percent boys in the school. I think that’s a really important thing to encourage. And the last thing is that I’m able to go down there and actually do the building myself and can contribute in Malawi, not just fundraise and send the money.”

GreenlandAn enthusiastic traveler, Emil looks forward to his next adventure — traveling with buildOn to Malawi to break ground on a school.

Emil plans to travel to Malawi on Trek with buildOn in 2019 with his parents, sister, and a group of other close friends and relatives. An avid explorer and traveler, he’s looking forward to immersing in the culture in Malawi and seeing the impact that building a school will have.

“Every time I have traveled, I have learned so much. It doesn’t matter where I go, everyone has something to teach,” Emil says. “I look forward to hopefully meet the children who will all study at the school. And I hope that I can keep in contact with the school and maybe visit again sometime in the future.”

To find out how you can build a school with buildOn like Emil, click here.