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 ...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How the Laptops will get to Lesotho

We've got roughly 40 laptops and miscellaneous supplies to get from the U.S. to Lesotho, about 150 pounds worth.  If we were to ship all that, it would cost about $800.  But I've found a way to avoid most of that cost and save the project hundreds of dollars.

If Craig and I fly on Delta as planned, between the two of us, we can check up to 200 pounds of luggage free.  I've been in touch with Delta and TSA about the possibility of taking the laptops in our checked luggage.  There are apparently no TSA restrictions on putting computers in your checked luggage.  (This was news to me.)  Apparently, it is just the airlines who discourage the practice because most computers wouldn't survive the manhandling.  But the XO laptops are pretty rugged little computers.  They were designed to withstand bumps, drops, and manhandling by kids.  We'll just be sure to pack and cushion them really well, and they should be fine.

Craig and I would have to pack light for our personal gear -- less than 25 pounds each, plus whatever we can take as carry on.  But I think we can manage that.

That still leaves getting all the laptops from Idaho to Ohio, where I will meet Craig.  The cheapest way would be to send them via Delta Cargo.  That would cost just $90, but it would require me to make an all-day trip to Salt Lake City, which adds about $40 worth of gas.  If I take the laptops as excess baggage, it would be more convenient but would cost $357.   I have to think about that a bit.

- Janissa

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fundraising Event - Soda Springs Library on Oct 12 at 7 p.m.

I'm giving a 30-minute presentation at the local library in Soda Springs, Idaho, on Tuesday October 12 at 7 p.m.  I'll talk briefly about Lesotho geography, history, and culture, then talk about the Laptops to Lesotho project. The presentation is open to the public and is free of charge, though donations will be accepted.

A writer for the Caribou County Sun newspaper, Ellen Carney, has offered to write a story for the paper about Laptops to Lesotho and include a notice about the presentation.  The library has copies of our brochure to hand out, and I'll be making flyers to post at the library and businesses around town.

- Janissa

Contact with Lesotho Embassy in Washington DC

I spoke on the phone with First Secretary 'M'e Matoka Phori of the Lesotho Embassy in Washington DC on Tuesday, Sept 21.  She was happy to hear about our project and was very helpful.  We had a very pleasant conversation.  Here's what we discussed: 
  • L2L does not need to register with the government in Lesotho.
  • Craig & I do not need work visas because we are staying less than 3 months.
  • The Lesotho Government will waive customs fees for Laptops to Lesotho.  I need to send them more information, then they will notify the border officials.
  • 'M'e Matoka is going to make inquiries about the best computer and electronics stores to do business with.
- Janissa

Friday, September 24, 2010

More Grant Requests Sent

I've sent a Letter of Inquiry to The Sidgmore Family Foundation and a Grantseekers Information Form to the Brinson Foundation, the first step in the grant application process for each foundation. 

The Brinson Foundation appears to be a good fit for our project and will review our application next month, but they are curtailing their funding of new projects and only accept new applications when previously funded projects have ended.

BTW:  If anyone wants to see any of the application materials I've sent out, to these or other organization, email me and I'll be happy to send you the information.

FYI:  I found these two foundations through the GrantStation database.

- Janissa

Ketane Prepares for Upcoming Deployment

Here's an email from Delia I received today with details about how the community is actively involved and preparing for the deployment of laptops in November:

Hello 'Me Janissa

I have been working along side Ntate Matlabe, Natate Mapesh and the teachers at Nohana Primary with the computer project and they have been been busy preparing for your visit. Ntate Matlabe and Ntate Mapesh asked me to send you an email to update you on the goings on here in Ketane. I have also included some of the questions that have been asked in order to help the teachers better preapre for you and your brother's fast approaching visit.

1. Regarding Dr Kasongo: Ntate Matlabe said he has tried to get in contact with Dr. Kasongo both through e-mail and phone but with no success. Ntate Matlabe understands the importance of Dr. Kasongo's role in the project and so Ntate Matlabe has gone to Maseru this weekend to try and meet with Dr. Kasongo face to face and arrange a time for him to visit Nohana Primary in order to conduct a needs asessment. We are all hopeful that they have an opportunity to meet and Dr. Kasongo will soon be visiting Ketane.

2. While Ntate Matlabe is in Maseru he is also going to inform the Ministry of Education, Catholic Schools Secretary, and the Teachers Service Department of your upcoming visit and your assistance in Ketane so they will be prepared for your visit to Lesotho.

3. The teachers at Nohana Primary are all working very hard in prepartation for your visit as well. They are setting up a computer room and are working to ensure that it is secure and ready for your arrival and the arrival of the XO Laptops.

4. The teachers have also assumed the responsibility of informing the local police, community council, area chiefs, the PIH clinic and other influential community members for your visit and your need to meet with them once you have arrived.

5. The teachers have all worked together to answer the 49 "what-if" questions that you had presented to them. The questions have been answered and I can send them to you if you wish or they will be printed and ready for you when you arrive here. **It is important to note there was some confusion regarding a couple of the questions so it may be best, if you have the time, for me to send them to you for your review. Otherwise the questions can be sorted out when you have arrived.

6. In preparation for the new computers, a group of students have been chosen to learn the XO Laptops and serve as student leaders. There are a total of 24 student leaders from standard 5, 6 & 7 who will learn the XO Laptops.

7. The teachers have also scheduled computer lessons with Aaron and I to learn and enhance their basic computer skills so that those going to the Kliptown Training will be prepared.

8. Ntate Matlabe and Ntate Mapesh were also wondering how many teachers will be able to attend the Kliptown training based on your available resources? They would like to know so that they can select the most appropriate teachers to send to the training.

9. Teachers have been selected to prepare for you and your borther's arrival and they want to ensure your needs are met and you and your brother are both comfortable. In order to prepare they have a couple questions regarding what you will need over your visit.

-- Will you and Craig require two separate rooms or can you share a room?
-- Do you plan to cook for yourselves or will you need all meals prepared during the duration of your visit?
-- Do you have a preference staying on the Nohana Mission Campus (where the primary school is located) or in the local community village?
-- Since Ketane is very rural if there are any special accommodations or dietary needs you and your brother require? Please let Ntate Matlabe and Ntate Mapesh know so they can adequately prepare for your visit.

Thank you and we look forward to speaking with you again very soon!


Delia A. Helie (Boitumelo Nohana)
PCV Lesotho

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Website Updates

I've updated the About Us section of the website. If you think there are other changes that need to be made, noticed some incorrect info, would like to be included, or would like me to add a picture of you, please email me or Janissa and I'll edit it as soon as I can!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Updates from August & early September

My apologies ... I am long overdue for updating this blog.  It's been a busy time with lots of things happening.  Here's a quick summary:

Team Members
  • Delia Helie, a new Peace Corps Volunteer in Ketane, has offered to help.
  • Shaun Ilderton, our I.T. specialist from Durban, has resigned due to time conflicts.  He will be returning the two XO laptops he has.
  • Matlabe has started using his new email account.  Please add to your address book.
Fundraising & Donations
  • Janissa submitted a grant application to EiF (Engineering Information Foundation).
  • We've received a number of personal donations, including several online contributions through and Facebook Causes.
  • Janissa set up a Laptops to Lesotho table at a local rodeo and raised $60.
  • We received a donated XO laptop (nonfunctioning, usable for spare parts) from an unknown person in California.
  • Janissa is working on grant applications to Ananda Foundation and an anonymous foundation.
  • Craig is working with teachers in the Cincinnati area on fundraising.
  • Diane McWethy is working on fundraising through the Goshen Public Library.
  • Maureen Powell and her husband carried eight of our XO laptops from the U.S. to Maseru.  They had no trouble going through security and paid no customs fees.  The laptops are currently being stored by Deepak Pullanikkatil of Peace Corps/Lesotho, awaiting pickup by someone from Ketane.
Partners & Support
Initial and/or follow-up contact was made with the following people and organizations.  I'll write more about these in upcoming blogs.
  • Jane Hale, Family Literacy Lesotho, & Peter Maphatsoe, Family Art & Literacy Center
  • Colleen Smith, MindSet
  • Angel Knapp, GrantStation
  • Andrew Steele & Bill Thompson, BLOOM Africa
  • South African representative of a Swiss foundation which wishes to remain anonymous
  • Jennifer, I Love My XO
  • Nia Lewis & Adam Holt, One Laptop Per Child
  • OLPC News Forum
  • Adi Nochur,
  • Matlabe is still working on arrangements to have Dr Kasongo of MS STIC travel to Ketane for a needs assessment for our school network and internet connection (no dates set yet)
  • Fortunate is still working on arrangements for teacher training at Kliptown Youth Project (no dates set yet)
  • Janissa is making arrangements to travel to Lesotho in November and December (approx Nov 2-Dec 7).  Her brother, Craig, will probably travel with her to help with training.
  • Janissa has created a Google online calendar for the public to view L2L events and also a private Google calendar for team members to post their schedules on.
  • Aaron is still trying to figure out why the USB modems don't work in Ketane.
  • Mapesh & Matlabe are working out contract details and what-if scenarios
Janissa needs to follow up on fundraising through:
  • Deepak Pullanikkatil, Maseru Rotary,
  • Cindy, Soda Springs Library, and
  • Shawnae Somsen, Soda Springs Public Schools.
Janissa needs to follow up technical assistance through:
  • Jennifer Getz, eduWeavers (eSibonisweni)
  • Indiana University OHOT (One Here One There)
  • Seth Woodworth
  • Cilliers du Preez
  • Malizo Sinono, GCNS Communication
Brochure & Business Cards
  •  Janissa has created a three-panel color brochure you can print double-sided on an 8½ x 11 sheet. The brochure was very well received at its first fundraising event, the Grays Lake rodeo. Contact Janissa if you want to receive a copy of the pdf for your own fundraising events.
  • Janissa has also ordered business cards for herself. The minimum order size was 250, so she'll have lots of extras if you'd like to have some. They have the L2L contact info including the new website & email addresses.