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 ...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thank You, L2L Volunteers

Our 7-week training and deployment in Lesotho is now over, and everyone is back home, hopefully happy with what we accomplished. 

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the wonderful group of volunteers who not only made this trip a success for the project but also a pleasure for me.  I especially want to thank those of you who flew to Lesotho, for shouldering the burden of paying for your own plane tickets.  At $2000+ a pop this trip, that's a very generous donation to the cause.


Tony Anderson

Tony worked tirelessly throughout the entire trip, doing programming, setting up servers, customizing the learning system, and doing lesson preparations, not to mention teaching a few classes.  He could be seen sitting day and night in the shade at his stone table or in the school office, rarely ever without an XO laptop in his hands. There was usually a glass of warm Coke nearby.

Tony is a retired programmer and has worked with OLPC projects in Nepal and Rwanda.


Craig Balcomb

Craig is my younger brother.  He served as my go-to guy and sounding board during this trip.  Anything I needed, he took care of it.  Among other things, he taught computer lessons, handled most of the laptop charging, took tons of photos to document our work, and kept my water bottle full.  Called "Crazy Craig" by the teachers, he loved to ham it up and entertained folks with his antics at the project celebrations.
Craig lives near Cincinnati, Ohio.  This was his second trip to Lesotho to help L2L, and hopefully there will be many more.

Kathy Plath
Kathy always had a positive attitude and graciously took on some of the less pleasant, but necessary, project tasks, including menu planning and grocery shopping for the entire group.  She was a great help, and her professionalism and teaching experience was invaluable to all of us during teacher training.  The start of school was delayed until after her departure, so she didn't get to spend as much time working with students as she would have liked, but fortunately she still managed to engage children in the village.
Kathy is an I.T. teacher in Pueblo, Colorado.


Mama Lolo Mabitsela

Mama Lolo came to Lesotho to learn about our project so she could start a similar project in her home town in South Africa. Besides attending XO laptop training with the teachers, she participated in discussions and planning and helped out wherever she could.  She made a significant contribution to the project by translating during interviews in the village.

Mama Lolo is a retired teacher.  She runs a B&B in Soweto.      

Mary Ladabouche

Mary came to us as a wonderful, unexpected surprise.  She had just recently moved to the village of Ketane and had read about our work on the internet.  She hiked from Ketane to Nohana Primary School and back almost every day, in all kinds of weather, just to help us with training.  She was great in the classroom, assisting students, prepping laptops, and helping with story time.  She even climbed up on the roof to help me install solar panels.  It was always a pleasure to see her warm smile.

Mary is a retired primary school teacher now serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ketane.


Sherrie Howey

Sherrie didn't have a lot of time to spend in Lesotho, but she definitely left her mark.  She visited leaders, families, and students' homes in the village and was able to collect all kinds of information during interviews conducted as part of the project evaluation.  While at Nohana, she awarded nine scholarships from FIPE (The Foundations for International Professional Exchange) to local 7th and 8th grade students so they can continue their education.

Sherrie is on the L2L Board and lives in Colorado. 

Jennifer Selden

Jennifer claims she's not a "computer person" or teacher, so when she came to Lesotho, she wasn't sure how she could help the project.  She needn't have worried.  She helped in the library and at story time, and did just fine helping with computer classes.  Her most memorable impact was at play time singing "A-tooti-ta" with all the children, who absolutely adored her.

Jennifer is Sherrie's daughter.  She lives in North Carolina, where she has been helping 5th graders from the U.S. and Lesotho exchange pen pal letters for several years.


Mamatsepe Sejanamane

Mamatsepe is a talented young Mosotho woman, very computer savvy, fluent in English, and a natural teacher who has a great way with children. (Don't let it go to your head, kid.)  We were very fortunate to have her assistance.  She provided simultaneous translations during interviews and lessons, as well as teaching XO laptop lessons on her own.  When teachers were absent, she stepped into their classrooms as a substitute teacher.

Mamatsepe currently lives in Maseru, but  she plans to move to Kokobe soon to do volunteer service full time for L2L.

Volunteers, thanks so much for all your hard work.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate your dedication, professionalism, and friendship.  I couldn't have asked for a better team.  And, I hope you will continue to help L2L here in the U.S.and in Lesotho.

- Janissa 

Janissa Balcomb with Nohana Primary School
teacher Teboho Mphasi, one of her star pupils