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 ...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Time to Leave

I'm leaving in about 8 hours for the airport to start my journey to Lesotho.  I will be stopping in Ohio for a few days to visit family, then heading for Jo'burg with my brother Craig where we will meet four of the team members and two other Ketane teachers for training at the Kliptown Youth Project.

There's more news but I need to go finish packing and then get some sleep.

- Janissa

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Library Presentation a Fundraising Failure

I gave my presentation at the Soda Springs Library on Tuesday to an audience of one.  :(  That was a complete waste of time.  I was really discouraged and went out for ice cream and chocolate afterwards. 

I found out today that a group of four of my neighbors had planned to go but got the time wrong.  That makes me feel a little better. 

The one person who did attend was a Library Board Member, and she was extremely interested in Lesotho and our project.  She asked so many questions that my half hour presentation ended up being over an hour long.

On a brighter note, I received a $200 donation from my mother-in-law.  Thanks Adele!

- Janissa

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dates for FIPE Professional Exchange

The Foundation for International Professional Exchange (FIPE) has been involved in this project from its inception.  They have provided $1600 in funding for hardware, and they've pledged to pay the expenses for Matlabe Teba, prinical/teacher at Nohana Primary School, to come to the U.S. as part of a professional and cultural exchange. 

We've had a little trouble working out dates for the trip, but it looks like now Matlabe will come over around March 14, 2011, for several weeks.  He will spend that time in Colorado, where both Andrew Dernovsek and FIPE are based.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Needs Assessment Visit at Ketane Today

Dr. Kasongo should be traveling to Ketane today to perform the needs asssessment for our network and internet system.  I hope his trip goes well.

- Janissa

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rejection from Brinson Foundation

I got a letter from the Brinson Foundation.  They've rejected my request for funding.  Bummer!

- Janissa

Friday, October 8, 2010

Additional Funding from Friends of Lesotho - Another Step Closer

The Friends of Lesotho Donation Committee has approved an additional request for $700 to fund a gas generator.  They will pass this request on to the full board, and we should know fairly soon if the FOL Board approves the request.

I submitted the request to FOL because I have been having trouble getting donations for solar power, and we desperately need some sort of power to run all the computers.  I had hoped to use a gas generator as our back-up power source, but until we get additional funding for solar panels, it will have to be our primary power supply.

FOL has already donated $1436 for internet hardware and service and security supplies.

- Janissa

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hole-in-the-Wall Computer & Minimally Invasive Education

We are having some interesting discussions about a program that started in India using a single computer with internet access placed outdoors in a wall where anybody and everybody could use it.  (It looks like an ATM.)

It was so successful that kids with no education at all were teaching themselves.  The program has since been expanded, and they even have computers at playgrounds now.  We are tossing around the idea and wondering if we should try putting one of our XO laptops outdoors like this in Ketane.

The India project found some very interesting results.  It worked best for 6-12 year olds and those in groups of about 4.  One thing they learned was that regardless of the language on the computer, the kids were able to learn how to use it and discover features and information all on their own.  They tried giving the kids some physics questions and let them look for the answers on their own.  The result was pretty amazing.  That led to the concept of minimally invasive education, teaching by asking questions.

If you'd like to learn more about the Hole-in-the-Wall project and minimally invasive education, check out:

- Janissa

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Trip Preparations Continue - immunizations, plane tickets, costs

I'm working hard to get everything ready for the trip to Lesotho.  I leave in just over 3 weeks, and there are still a lot of details to attend to.  Fortunately, the team members in Ketane and South Africa are taking care of everything at that end, so I don't have to worry about any of that.

I've gotten my one and only immunization, and Craig is in the process of getting all of his.  A bit of sticker shock there ... immunizations are really pricey anymore.  My third Hepatitis A/B shot alone cost nearly $80.  Craig's will cost over $600.  Ouch!  (literally & figuratively)

I've bought the plane tickets for the two of us, thanks to a generous donation from our parents.  We got really good deals on the price.  Craig's round-trip from Dayton, Ohio, cost $1200.  I've got a multi-city itinerary, starting in Idaho Falls, going to Ohio, Johannesburg, then back to Idaho Falls (via Atlanta and Salt Lake City).  With all the extra stops, my ticket only cost about $100 more than Craig's.  What a deal!  The last time I flew from SLC to Jo'burg, in 2008, it cost $1500, and that was without any extra stops.  My frequent flyer miles covered 60%, so the total cost to me was just $500!

- Janissa

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

MS STIC Ketane Trip & Needs Assessment - plan update

After many communication problems, 'Ntate Matlabe traveled twice to Maseru to make arrangements for Dr. Kasongo Kalanda to travel to Ketane to do a needs assessment for our network and internet.  This was a HUGE commitment of time for Matlabe.  As I understand it, a one-way trip from Ketane to Maseru involves a 9-12 hour bus trip, much of that time on some very bad mountain roads.

As for the plans, so far I've heard that they were able to work out dates for the trip.  Dr. Kasongo will go to Ketane on October 11.  On his return, he will meet with the internet provider Vodacom Lesotho and get the needs assessment to me on October 13.

This is fantastic news after so much delay.  I'll be able to start making plans to acquire the necessary equipment so we can install the system before distributing the laptops.

THANK YOU 'Ntate Matlabe for the extra effort.

- Janissa

Monday, October 4, 2010

Article for Local Newspaper

I was interviewed yesterday by the author Ellen Carney.  (She has published a number of books about the history of this area.)  She is writing up a nice long article about Laptops to Lesotho for the local newspaper.  Hopefully, it will drum up interest in my presentation/ fundraiser at the local library on October 12. 

I also designed a flyer to post at local area business to advertise the event.  I'll head to town in a few days to put those up.

- Janissa