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 ...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Six Volunteers Going to Lesotho in January 2013

We now have 6 volunteers who have positively committed to go to Lesotho in January 2013 to help with the teacher training and project development.  Definitely going from the U.S., we have:
  • Janissa Balcomb (L2L President, from Idaho)
  • Craig Balcomb (L2L Volunteer & Janissa's brother, from Ohio),
  • Sherrie Howey (L2L Board Member, from Colorado),
  • Kathy Plath (L2L Volunteer, from Colorado), and
  • Jennifer Selden (L2L Volunteer & Sherrie’s daughter, from North Carolina).
Definitely going from southern Africa, we have:
  • Fortunate Gunzo (L2L Volunteer, from South Africa/Zimbabwe).
Janissa, Craig and Fortunate have been to Ketane before, Craig in 2010, Fortunate in 2011, and Janissa in 2010 & 2011. Kathy hasn't been to Ketane but traveled extensively elsewhere in Lesotho in the 1980s.
We have 6 more people from the U.S. and 2-3 people from South Africa still interested in going with us who may or may not be able to make it, depending on their schedules and finances.
There is A LOT of work to be done before and during the January 2013 trip.  I would like to extend a special thanks to all these volunteers for their help. 
If you are interested in volunteering, contact me at
- Janissa

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Janissa & Sherrie Meet in Colorado

Janissa Balcomb, L2L President, and Sherrie Howey, L2L Director, got together at Sherrie's home in Beulah, Colorado, last week  for 4 days to discuss L2L business.  They met with L2L Volunteer Kathy Plath, and Janissa spent half a day with FIPE's Jack Wilson and his wife Bettie.

Janissa took 15 XO laptops, destined for Kokobe Primary School, with her to Beulah.  This is so Kathy, Sherrie, and Jennifer Selden (Sherrie's daughter) will have an opportunity to learn how to use the XO laptops before they help with training in Lesotho.  To save shipping costs, each of them will then carry 5 of the XO laptops with them to Lesotho when they go in January 2013.

During the visit, Janissa and Sherrie did some serious brainstorming, discussed L2L and FIPE goals, and made plans for the upcoming trip, among other things.  Janissa also gave Sherrie a crash course in how to use the XO laptop.

A special thank-you to Sherrie and Hamp for their wonderful hospitality and to Jack and Bettie for the great conversation and dinner.

- Janissa

Note: All expenses for this trip were paid for out of Janissa's and Sherrie's personal funds. No L2L money was used.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Funding for Solar Power from FOL

I am happy to announce that Friends of Lesotho has generously pledged $3386 to L2L this year! This money has been provided to help establish a solar power system at Kokobe. We will be able to buy four 80 watt PV panels, two 260 Ah batteries, a 20 A regulator 24 volt, and a 1200 watt 24 Volt Victron Inverter. This leaves only $2000 needed for the rest of the system (wiring, distribution board, grounding, and installation). A big thank you to Friends of Lesotho for this generous pledge of support.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Andrew Dernovsek Resigns from L2L Board

L2L Co-founder Andrew Dernovsek resigned from the L2L Board this week, citing a difference in perspective.  

I'm sorry we couldn't resolve our differences, but I respect his decision.  I thank him for helping to get this project started and for his service to the people of Ketane, Lesotho.
Andrew has been very busy lately finishing up his graduate studies.  He plans to continue his work as Executive Director of UCE and will be traveling to Cambodia where he will work with orphans and women rescued from sex-trafficking.

Andrew's resignation leaves our Board with three Directors: President Janissa Balcomb, Secretary Sarah Gardner, and Director Sherrie Howey.  We hope to recruit 1-2 additional directors in the near future.
- Janissa

Monday, May 7, 2012

Trouble Getting Response from Lesotho Insurance Agents

Director Sherrie Howey has been trying to get information so L2L can acquire insurance for the project's hardware and supplies in Lesotho.  But either insurance agents won't respond to her inquiries or their contact information turns out to be incorrect. 

Sometimes it's hard trying to do business in Lesotho from thousands of miles away.  We may have to wait until we are there in person next January to get insurance.  Despite the delay, that might actually be better because then we can take Matlabe and Alice along and involve them in the process.

- Janissa

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Network Server Software Frustrations

Until now, I've been completely frustrated trying to get information on how to install the XS network server operating system at Nohana Primary School.  Online instructions tend to be written in Geek Speak, which goes right over my head, and are incomplete for novices like me who need step-by-step instructions. 

To make matters more difficult, we couldn't download the software directly onto the  PC we have designated as the school server, because we don't have internet at the school.  Instead, we had to download the software onto a flash drive or CD, then install it from that onto the server.  We tried this several different times, even brought in computer specialists, but we always got an error message that the files were incomplete.  Without internet service, we couldn't finish the installation. I was pulling my hair out.

I still haven't been able to find any answers to why the software wouldn't install properly.  But, after sending information about our situation to the OLPC server development list serve (, David Leeming in Papua New Guinea contacted me with general advice for setting up a server for the XO laptops.  He faces a situation in PNG very similar to ours and has written up detailed instructions for installing the server software.  Hopefully this will help. 

This time around, I'm going to practice installing the server software here in the U.S. before going over to Lesotho.  That way, I can learn how to do it where I have access to the internet, and I can contact David and others for help when  I run into problems.

Unfortunately, because of the difference in voltage in electrical systems in the U.S. and Lesotho (120V vs. 240V), I can't take a U.S. PC with the XS software already installed over to Lesotho.  (Unlike laptops, which can operate on either 120V or 240V, U.S. PCs require 120V.)  So, I will still have to install the XS software on the school's Lesotho PC, without internet service, when I get there in January 2013.

Keeping my fingers crossed that it works this time around,
- Janissa