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 ...

Friday, December 25, 2009

the dreaded IRS Form 1023

The IRS form for getting tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Form 1023, is incredible ... 14 pages of questions, many of which request very, very detailed "narrative" answers about past, present, and projected activities. Yikes!

This thing will take days to complete, and since we are just starting, it will contain lots of your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine answers. Project our annual gross receipts for the next three years?!?!!! I haven't a clue how successful we'll be at fundraising.

And filing fees are expensive! $400 for under $10,000 gross, $800 for over.

Time to stop complaining and wade in ...

-- Janissa

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Laptops to Lesotho is finally Incorporated!

I got the official incorporation papers today from the Idaho Secretary of State. We are now officially Laptops to Lesotho Inc.

Next step >> IRS nonprofit registration Form 1023 ...

-- Janissa

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tagline: Opening doors to hope with keys to the world

We've now got a tagline to use in all our communications:

"Opening doors to hope with keys to the world."

This brief slogan defines our mission with a catchy, and hopefully memorable, play on words ... "keys" referring to computer keys, "keys to the world" referring to the internet, keys "opening doors" refers to providing opportunities that lead to "hope."

-- Janissa

Conduit - giving & donation campaign

Once we get our nonprofit status, I'll apply for this ...

"New Giving and Donation Campaign from Tech Company
Mon, 12/14/2009 - 9:51am — Kevin Lo

Conduit, a company that helps content publishers distribute content using browser add-on technology, unveiled a year-long campaign to donate money to U.S.-registered nonprofits, and at the same time help them connect with their constituents. Using their Conduit Platform, every time someone clicks on the "Conduit Gives" button on a particular nonprofit's "conduit," the company will donate some money to that nonprofit.

Adam Boyden, president of the company, noted that they wanted to make a difference in these tough economic times, and has dedicated a team of experts to help nonprofits use this platform for outreach and fundraising. As they've seen success in enterprises of varying sizes, Boyden believes that the nonprofit sector can benefit from this technology as well.

As many as 100 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit organizations would be chosen (without NTEE restrictions), and the deadline to apply is February 15, 2010. For more details check out their website and their application form.


-- Janissa

No new PCV at Ketane

I got word from Aaron that all the new PC recruits have been placed, and none were sent to Ketane to replace Andrew. This will be a huge disappointment to the school. It shouldn't have a huge impact on our project, but it will mean Aaron and Mapesh will have a heavier work load.

-- Janissa

Packages are in the mail

I finally got the prizes for the winners of the naming and logo contests in the mail, along with some extra school supplies, calendars, and additional gifts for future contests, plus cash for Mapesh to pay for internet access.

The postage cost twice as much as the stuff inside the two packages! You used to be able to send stuff to Lesotho via surface mail. Not anymore! Postage is outrageous. I will have to be more careful about sending stuff and looking for people from FOL or PC going over there to carry any packages I send.

-- Janissa

L2L Articles of Incorporation rejected

I got the Articles of Incorporation for Laptops to Lesotho back from the Idaho Secretary of State. They were rejected because of one inappropriate clause and the absence of names and addresses of the initial directors. I hadn't expected this since I used the exact wording posted by the Idaho Nonprofit Center, and I followed all the statutes in the Idaho Nonprofit Act, but what do you expect when dealing with lawyers and legaleze!

I've made the corrections and will re-submit it. Hopefully, this doesn't drag out much longer. We still have one more hurdle after this, getting official non-profit status from the IRS. I had hoped to have that all done before Christmas so we could start applying for grants. Just have to be patient ...

-- Janissa

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Laptops To Lesotho Website

The website for our nonprofit organization, Laptops to Lesotho, is up and running! Check it out!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

no luck with 'Help Lesotho' funding

I contacted 'Help Lesotho' in Canada to find out about funding, and unfortunately they don't fund third-party projects. Otherwise, still plugging along ...


Thursday, December 3, 2009


Things are progressing. We received a very generous donation from Ruth & Robert Balcomb recently. Thanks, Ruth and Bob!!! I've also sent invitations to other friends and family asking them to join our Cause, spread the word, and make a donation.

I've been actively recruiting donations of XO laptops as well, especially targeting dissatisfied owners who got one through the Give One Get One program. I found Andy Roberts on Facebook, and he has promised us his XO laptop. Thanks, Andy!!!

I still need to get cracking on developing a more detailed budget. I've got it roughed out, but need to start researching current prices for everything.

If all went well, Andrew left Lesotho today and is on his way to Tanzania.

-- Janissa

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Letlotlo la rona la Projeke ea Likomporo Maluting

The Sesotho translation for Our Treasure Highland Computer Project is Letlotlo la rona la Projeke ea Likomporo Maluting

Flurry of Activity before Andrew Leaves

There's been a flurry of emails going around as we all prepare for Andrew's departure from Ketane. There's also been progress on several fronts.

The highlights:
* The US embassy is donating desktop computers to some PCV schools. We'll try to get one or more. Maybe we'll be able to use them as a network server???
* Sarah and Amy are going to contact Lineo to learn more about her and her qualifications.
* Janissa made preliminary contact with a Friends of Lesotho officer about possible funding and got a very positive response.
* The papers necessary for incorporating Laptops to Lesotho have been compiled and Janissa will put them in the mail Friday to the Idaho Secretary of State.
* L2L is still looking for a fourth board member, someone to take over the treasurer duties from Janissa.
* Sarah is designing the website for Laptops to Lesotho.
* Janissa bought prizes for the winners of the naming and logo contest -- book bag and a journal with colored pens, book bag and construction paper with a few art supplies. She will be mailing those to Mapesh on Friday. She also bought a few extra items to use for future contest prizes ... warm gloves, spiral notebooks, colorful pencils, fancy erasers, and pencil sharpeners.
*Ketane school holiday is coming up, but Mapesh will have a laptop during the break so he can stay in touch.
* Andrew will be leaving Lesotho on 3 December but will continue to work on the project, just from a distance.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and Janissa's birthday. Enjoy the day, things are going well!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Email from Andrew

Lumela 'M'e Janissa,

I hope all is well there. I have lots of good news for you on this
end. Firstly, the name that the teachers chose was Our Treasure
Highland Computer Project. I have attached the logo. I think this
could always be shortened to Highland Computer Project if we want to
later. The girl was going a bit slowly on making follow up drafts for
the logo so I just sent this one. There should be a second Basotho hat
in the top right corner and the bottom phrase should read Together for
a Better Lesotho and curve around the logo. The logo is meant to be a
Basotho shield and any color improvements you can make will be

The winners of the contest are:
Makhotso Makanke 14 years old female-standard 6 The main winner
Manatala Thopa 14 years old female standard six- second winner

Also we think we have succeeded in finding a Mosotho college student,
a female, who is good in computers and computer networks (but not
solar). Also, Aaron the PCV you emailed has been brought fully on
board. I held a meeting with him and all of the teachers to let him
take over my role in the project and current computer school. He was
very happy to do so, and once I leave will be resuming computer
classes and other activities with the Primary School. I think you can
begin to include him in our communications.

It was dissapointing to hear that OLPC may be cancelling their Africa
program, however, your email was very uplifting to everyone here. They
were all thrilled to know that the work and project will continue even
if we don't get the grant and that you 'won't let the kids down.'
Thank you for that.

I had planned on making a video that we could use for fundraising etc.
As my time is almost finished I think it would just be easier if I
sent it to you once I was back in the States if that is ok.

Sala Hantle,

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Congratulations Mapesh!

Mapesh has finished his degree in Primary Education at Lesotho College of Education. He got a first class. He will graduate on 27 November.


Good work, we're proud of you.

Ketane Community Organization

The principal at Nohana Primary, Matlabe Teba, will be serving as our treasurer there. Welcome to the team, 'Ntate Matlabe!

Andrew is scheduled to leave Ketane in about two weeks, so he and Mapesh are working hard to get a lot of the organizing and building support done before he leaves.

Andrew and Matlabe have talked to the students' parents, and they are very supportive. Yea!

Alternative Sources of Computers

I'm checking out alternative sources for computers and hardware just in case the OLPCorps Africa grant doesn't work out. I found a nonprofit enterprise called Inveneo ( where we might be able to get basic computers that use very little power. They can even be loaded with the XO laptop OS and programs, so they'll be compatible with the XOs and will have the kid oriented programming.

Inveneo also provides technical advice on setting up a network, internet connection, and power system. I've made initial contact with them and received a request for more information. Even if we get the OLPCorps grant, I think we can still benefit from working with Inveneo on technical aspects of our project.

There is still hope!


Thursday, November 12, 2009


If OLPC decides to seriously alter or discontinue the OLPCorps Africa grants, we will adapt however we need to in order to get XO laptops to Ketane. If it means raising all the money ourselves, we will find a way. I can't let these kids down!

Scary email from OLPC

I received the following email in response to a question I had about how many laptops we could apply for. It implies that there may be serious changes to the grant program. Reading between the lines, I wonder if they might not discontinue the OLPCorps Africa program. I sure hope not! That would break a lot of hearts!!!

[note: bold highlighting is mine. Janissa]

Hi Janissa,

The 2010 program is still in development at this point. We're still evaluating if the 2009 style Corps should continue. We should be announcing the 2010 program soon. We'll announce these opportunities on the list serve below. Please let us know if you have any other questions.

Paul Commons

Please join our mailing list to stay updated:


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Students Name Their Project

I got word from Andrew that they've held a contest at Nohana Primary School for the students to name the project, and the teachers have selected a winner, "Our Treasure Highland Computer School." The winner will get an as-yet undisclosed prize. They've also designed a logo, but we're still eagerly waiting to see it. Good job, students!


Monday, November 9, 2009

Nonprofit Formation, step 2

I got the articles of incorporation for our nonprofit, Laptops to Lesotho, notarized today, and I sent the by-laws to our new Secretary, Sarah Balcomb, to sign. We've got a third Director, Andrew Dernovsek. I am serving as President/Treasurer, just until we can find someone to be Treasurer.

The Idaho Nonprofit Center has been a great help. I couldn't have done it without them. They've made it so easy, it is actually fun, and we're making progress!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

OLPC Deployment Schedule

I made an interesting discovery while going through the OLPC Deployment Guide's Sample Deployment Schedule. According to their schedule, we shouldn't expect our XO laptops to arrive in country until Day 125 (always assuming that we get a grant, of course). Assuming Day 0 is when OLPC makes their decisions on who gets grants, which in the past seems to have been mid-April or later, that would put Day 125 at mid- to late August! How can that be? That's when we'll be leaving! I need to go back and read blogs from previous grant recipients to see when they received their laptops. This has me very concerned.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Donate your OLPC XO laptop on Facebook

I've started a Facebook group to try to reach people who've received XO laptops through the OLPC Give One Get One (G1G1) program with the hope of getting those who aren't using their XOs anymore to donate them to our project. Short of that, maybe we can find someone in Idaho and/or Ohio to loan us theirs to use for hands-on fundraising.

Go to:
Donate Your OLPC XO Laptop on Facebook.

Getting the word out - Facebook, Twitter

I've now got a Facebook page for Laptops to Lesotho. It's also been added to the Facebook Causes, though I still need to register it as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the IRS before we can start accepting donations on Facebook. And, I've got a Twitter account for Laptops to Lesotho, aka Laptops2Lesotho. So, the advertising infrastructure is set up, but we'll hold off generating some buzz 'til we're officially a nonprofit.

Join our cause at:   Facebook Cause -- Laptops to Lesotho
Follow our Tweets, go to:  Twitter -- Laptops2Lesotho and click Follow.

Forming our nonprofit organization: Laptops to Lesotho

We asked our friends for suggestions, and now we have a name for our nonprofit, Laptops to Lesotho (Inc.), the organization we'll use to raise additional funds for our OLPCorps Africa project. I've got our EIN number from the IRS, and I've written the mission statement, by-laws, and articles of incorporation.

I still need to recruit and confirm board members, then I'll be ready to submit it to the Secretary of the State of Idaho for incorporation. Once that's done, we'll register as a nonprofit with the IRS.

If we're lucky, all these legal steps will be done before Christmas, and we can start collecting donations during the giving season.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Our OLPCorps Africa website

Please visit our new page on the OLPCorps Africa website:

      OLPCorps Africa - Lesotho 2010

for the latest on our grant proposal, background information, list of team members, and our plans for the project.

Please keep in mind that this is a work in progress, so we will be adding and editing it regularly. We welcome any constructive comments or suggestions you may have which are aimed toward improving the outcome of this project.