Providing Lesotho's Children with Keys to the World

This is the story of our efforts to end the vicious cycle of poverty, disease, inadequate education, and early death
in a remote rural community in Lesotho, Africa, by providing quality education and life skills
to the young children there. Join us on our journey ...

Monday, September 1, 2014

Board Expanding

Laptops to Lesotho is fortunate to bring on board Fortunate Gunzo. Fortunate is a PhD candidate in ICT in Education at Rhodes University located in Grahamstown, South Africa. Her research interests are in ICT for development, computers in teaching and learning, and computers in rural areas.  Prior to her becoming a board member, Fortunate served as a volunteer since 2010. She helped with logistics and support for volunteer's visits to Lesotho. She also worked with teacher training and grant writing.  In her new role she will focus on lesson development aligned with the Lesotho curriculum as well as teacher training.

Lesotho's Coup Crisis

According to the Bloomberg News, Lesotho was left in political limbo after the prime minister and head of the armed forces fled to neighboring South Africa following what they said was an attempted military coup.
South African President Jacob Zuma convened emergency talks in a bid to resolve the crisis and met today with Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his deputy and rival Mothetjoa Metsing, said Clayson Monyela, a spokesman for South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
Thabane fled the mountain kingdom on Aug. 30, saying the army tried to overthrow him. The military claimed it disarmed police officers who threatened to destabilize the nation. Lesotho has been run by a three-party coalition government since elections two years ago. In June, Thabane suspended parliament until February, a move opposed by other coalition partners.
“Metsing has assumed control over the government and he is likely to end the parliamentary suspension and form a new coalition” with former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Democratic Congress party within a month, Robert Besseling, principal analyst at IHS Country Risk in London, said in e-mailed comments.
Maseru, the capital, was calm today and there was no sign of uniformed police officers or soldiers on the streets. Police stations and courts in the capital were closed.
Metsing said the army’s seizure of the police headquarters was a misunderstanding between the two institutions and not a coup.
                                                                  Reprinted from the Bloomberg News


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Great Nonprofits

Laptops to Lesotho (L2L) is registered with Great Nonprofits, a group that compiles and verifies information about nonprofit organizations.  Their website provides people like you the opportunity to write personal reviews of nonprofit organizations like L2L.
 
These reviews are very important.  They give people who might like to know more about what we do the chance to read insights from people who have donated to, volunteer for, or are otherwise familiar with our project.  That helps them judge our impact and decide whether or not to support our work.
 
You can read previous reviews of L2L, or write your own review at
http://greatnonprofits.org and enter Laptops to Lesotho.
 
 
 


Meeting of Board of Directors


Board of Directors Meeting

On August 2 the Board of Directors met spanning four different time zones and two continents.  With few technical difficulties Skype worked well to bring all board members together.

Goals were discussed, both long and short-term. Members were in a consensus that our short term goal is to stay focused on what we’ve been doing and make it stronger.  This includes strengthening people’s skills and creating a library of lessons.  Long-term goals include growth of the project.  The board agreed that we will look into implementing a project at the primary school in Pela Tsoeu, in the Leribe District. The location was selected because of its proximity to technical support from South Africa, and ease of volunteers’ travel to and from the school. No date was set to initiate the project there, but we will start looking into acquiring funding for project implementation.

Vicki provided a financial report.  More financial action includes follow up with the New York Rotary Club to continue receiving promised grant funding, organization of older financial records,  and developing a new budget.

Henk will work with Florence to get the servers operational.  He will follow up with Tony Anderson, who originally designed and set up the school servers, to get the passwords and work on server connections and documentation. 

Sherrie gave a summary of the status of the FIPE student scholars.  The results for most of the students have been disappointing.  FIPE will reduce the number of scholarships and concentrate on supporting further education of the successful scholars.  Sherrie is working with Florence and Fortunate to improve communication with the school principal.

Pueblo West High School donated Dell laptops to Matlabe’s school.  Discussion involved the cost of shipping the laptops and the logistics involved.  Sherrie will work with Matlabe regarding shipping the laptops.

There was a discussion about the need for more fundraising.  It was agreed that we need to recruit more people who can focus on fundraising and grant writing.  It was suggested that our funding requests should be targeted and project-based, as most of our fundraising has been in the past.

In order to increase publicity the following tasks were agreed upon: A Laptops to Lesotho (L2L) LinkedIn page, NGO Pulse, update the L2L Facebook page, increasing blog posts and updating the L2L website.

Regarding lessons there was a discussion about the continuing need to acquire better educational materials for the XO laptops.  Most software on the laptops is not sufficient for classroom use and/or is not easy for the teachers to use.  We need to get more lessons in a format that is easy for the teachers to use and doesn’t require additional time investment from then.  We also need lessons that students can use on their own.  Henk mentioned that Edubuntu could be investigated as a possible platform.

This is an abbreviated version of the minutes.  Next meeting to be held Saturday, October 11, 2014

Two new members join Laptops to Lesotho Board


With a growing board to help lead Laptops to Lesotho into the future, we welcome Vicki Panhuise and Kathy Plath to the board. 

Vicki, who currently resides in the Phoenix, AZ area, is owner and President of VePoint Consulting Group LLC.  She has substantial aerospace general management experience.  Her expertise includes managing global organization to support customers worldwide.  We welcome her as Treasurer of Laptops to Lesotho.

Kathy is a media specialist in an elementary school in Pueblo, CO.  She loves teaching technology classes to her students. She was fortunate to have spent two years in Lesotho, and welcomes this opportunity to help further the education of young people in Lesotho through her work with Laptops to Lesotho.

 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Filing For Tax-Exempt Status

IRS Makes Applying for Tax-exempt Status Easier for Small Organizations
 
The Internal Revenue Service today introduced a new, shorter application form, Form 1023-EZ, to help small charities apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status more easily. Most organizations with annual gross receipts of $50,000 or less and assets of $250,000 or less are eligible.

The change will allow the IRS to speed the approval process for smaller groups and free up resources to review applications from larger, more complex organizations while reducing the application backlog. 

The new 1023-EZ form must be filed on 
www.pay.gov
, accompanied by a $400 user fee. The instructions include an eligibility checklist that organizations must complete before filing the form.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Laptops to Lesotho Elects New Board Member

Henk Boshoff was recently elected as a new director of Laptops to Lesotho.  Henk is a tech company owner from Pretoria, South Africa.  He is a strong supporter of the Laptops to Lesotho philosophy and approach.

Henk and his engineers will be getting involved in getting the servers at Kokobe and Nohana up and running.  He will also work with training those involved with using the servers.  This alone has the potential to vastly improve the effectiveness of the project by making computer use at the schools easier and more productive.

In addition, he is very interested in seeing L2L expand. His advice will be invaluable in choosing the best hardware and software options.  He has worked with the Linux open source operating system, Edubuntu, and would handle installation of it and any educational software to the computers.

Affordable internet access at the schools is something he would like to see happen.  Another interest is finding ways to develop entrepreneurial endeavors with community members and students using laptops and internet communications to establish local businesses.

Welcome to Laptops to Lesotho.