Laptops To Lesotho Inc.

Rating: 5 stars   14 reviews

Issues: Education, International, Economic Development, Microfinance

Location: 55 Eagle Creek Rd Wayan ID 83285 USA

Mission: Our mission is to break the vicious cycle of illiteracy, poverty, and disease that is leading to early death in Lesotho by working through a local, grassroots, community-based organization to high quality education and job skills for the children in rural Lesotho. To do this, we provide special children's laptop computers and access to the internet. Thses laptops, and the access to information they provide, are an avenue for growth and improvement in the students' lives and in the community as a whole.  We believe that truly successful solutions to the multitude of problems facing the people of Lesotho will come only when the Basotho devise and embrace solutions as their own.  The best way to prepare them for that is through education and access to information, and the best time to reach them is when they are young. Our primary goal is to give each and every child in the community their very own laptop.  With child-ownership, the laptops can be used both in the structured environment of the classroom and by the children on their own, away from school, for unstructured learning and discovery at their own pace. We use refurbished XO laptops by the One Laptop Per Child organization, unique notebook-sized computers designed specifically for children in less developed countries. The laptops are a fun way to expand on the basic classroom skills of reading, writing, and math.  They also help develop more advanced skills such as logic, conceptualization, and problem-solving.  The operating system can be changed to a more advanced interface as the students’ skills progress. Our secondary goal is to make this completely a community-run program.  This idea was started by people in the community, and we serve merely as facilitators to help them achieve their goal.  To this end, our team includes three staff members from the school, two in prominent leadership roles.  We work with the community throughout the entire process to ensure their continued, long-term participation.  We mentor and train selected individuals in community organization.  This year, we will be teaching them fundraising and grant-writing, so that eventually they take over and run this project on their own.
Results: In 2008, Andrew Dernovsek, then a Peace Corp Volunteer in Ketane, started teaching computer skills to his colleagues, students, and members of the community on his own computer.  The community was so enthusiastic about the idea that they raised money to buy a second, used computer, and they set up a donated solar power system to run them.  The school then used its surplus power to charge cell phones for a fee to earn money to purchase a printer/scanner/copier. A new building to house the school was started with labor and supplies donated by the community.  Thus started the Ketane Computer School. In June 2009, the Balcomb family donated two children’s laptops, unique computers designed by One Laptop Per Child, to Nohana Primary School, immediately adjacent to the Ketane Computer School.  In 2010, 48 more of these laptops were delivered to the school. A gas generator-powered electrical system was installed to charge and run the laptops, and a network server was set up. All the teachers and the principal at Nohana Primary participated in three weeks of intensive training on the computers.  They now run the computer school and also teach their primary school students using the computers in the classroom.  Even with just 50 computers so far for over nearly 400 students, they have already seen improvement in the students’ language skills, increased enthusiasm for learning, near perfect attendance, and better behavior. They now receive strong support from parents, who even permit their children to attend during the harvest when they are needed in the fields. The school asked if there was a way to get more of the special kids’ laptops, and that request gave birth to this project.  In the following months, founders Andrew Dernovsek and Janissa Balcomb recruited seven more team members and developed goals and objectives with an eye toward laying a strong foundation for what will hopefully be a long-term, community-run project.  They set up a website and started a blog to serve as a step-by-step record of our work. School officials and the Ketane local council committed to supply labor, services, and some of the materials.  This contribution is a huge sacrifice because most of the people live at or near the subsistence level.  The school held a contest for the students to name the project and design a logo. We have raised over $10,00 in donations and pledges.  We have acquired 50 used laptops.  We partnered with several organizations who are providing support and/or funding, including BLOOM Africa, Friends of Lesotho, Peace Corps/Lesotho, School Technology Innovation Center, Family Literacy Lesotho, and Foundation for International Partnership Exchange (FIPE).  FIPE agreed to fund a professional exchange to bring one of our Basotho team members to the U.S. to observe and train with teachers in Colorado.  In November 2010, we will be (1) setting up the network and internet infrastructure solar power system (2) distributing 53 laptops to 6th grade students, teachers, and a school computer lab (3) training teachers and working to incorporate the laptop activities into the existing curriculm, and (4) working with the local community. Our organization has earned the GuideStar.org Exchange Seal transparency and proactive information disclosure.
Target demographics: Primary school-age children in Ketane, Lesotho Lesotho is a mountainous kingdom completely surrounded by South Africa.  It is one of the poorest nations in the world.  The terrain is rugged, there are few roads, and many villages are isolated and only accessible by foot or horseback.  The mountain soils are poor, and only about 10% of the land is arable.  Winters are harsh with snow and frequent sub-freezing temperatures. Lesotho has the third highest rate of HIV/AIDS and the fourth highest rate of drug-resistant TB in the world, resulting in an average life expectancy of just 36 years.  The twin epidemics have had devastating effects on family structure, making life extraordinarily challenging for Lesotho’s children.  A large number of today’s children have lost one or both parents.  Some orphans are raised by grandparents, while others live in homes with a child as the head of the house. Primary education is free in Lesotho, but because of responsibilities at home, some children are unable to attend school.  Secondary education is not free, and many students cannot afford it. Ketane is a small, very remote community in the Mohales Hoek District of southwestern Lesotho.  The primary source of income is cattle ranching and raising sheep and goats for wool.  There are two chiefs and a local council who govern the area a well as an active widows association called Diamonds of Ketane. Nohana Primary School currently has 370 students in grades 1-7 and nine teachers.  The teachers’ English ranges from conversant to fluent, and the sixth and seventh grade students are sufficiently fluent in English to be able to use existing computers without translation of the interface into Sesotho.
Direct beneficiaries per year: In 2010, 25 5th, 6th, and 7th grade students were designated as student leaders and received extra training with the laptops. Nine teachers and a principal received extensive computer training. All the primary school students will have access to the computers at school and the upper grade students are permitted to take them home. Parents and guardians have benefitted by improved behavior of their children at home.
Geographic areas served: Lesotho, southern Africa
Programs: Our Treasure Highland Computer Project at Nohana Primary School in Ketane, Mohale's Hoek District, Lesotho, Africa.
Write a Review

See How 3Hrs Can Help

Invite people to share their experience with this nonprofit!

Promote This Nonprofit

GreatNonprofits badges allow you to raise awareness of your favorite nonprofits on your own web sites!

Review this charity on
GreatNonprofits

Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

If you are looking for a great non-profit to support where you can be confident your contribution will make a big impact, I'd recommend Laptops to Lesotho (L2L)! This organization is taking on the challenge of bringing computer technology to a remote area of Lesotho in order to improve primary school education. By bringing this technology in at primary school level, the students at these schools will have gained an immense advantage in furthering their education, not to mention computer skills. Young lives will be changed forever. The laptops are a wonderful incentive to encourage the students to attend school and be fascinated by a new means of learning. The enthusiasm for learning has sky-rocketed!

I have personally visited one of the schools involved and witnessed the extremely dedicated L2L volunteers in action as they worked with students and staff. L2L is a low-budget, low overhead operation that depends on local and international volunteers who are willing to sacrifice the comforts of home, as well as a bit of their finances, to make a major impact in another part of the world. The volunteers live at the site with the school staff and establish a true partnership. Their goal is to get the project into the hands of the local school staff and students. They don't just hand stuff over; they spend weeks at a school teaching and training so that when they leave (until their next trip to check in how things are going) the laptops will be used, cared for and maintained.

L2L is well-worth you consideration, so check it out!

Was your donation impactful?

Likely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Likely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I have been familiar with this organization for just over a year and I recently visited one of the schools where Laptops to Lesotho has just introduced the laptops to the students and staff. What strikes me most about the people involved in this work is their dedication and commitment, especially in view of the difficult area of Lesotho which they have targeted as well as the limited resources they have. The people involved are extremely enthusiastic and excited about their work and the people they are serving are also excited about the opportunties they are provided with in having these laptops at their schools. The work relies on volunteeers, both local and from abroad. Training is given to put the power of the project into the hands of the local teachers who will be working with their students. The fact that the Basotho are so involved in managing the project is very inspiring and indicative of the true partnership that has developed. Certainly a project worthy of mention and support!

Was your donation impactful?

Likely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Likely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 

Thanks, Mark. I'm glad you finally got a chance to see our work in action at Kokobe. And I'm happy you liked what you saw. Maybe next time you'll get to stay a little longer :) Janissa

Rating: 5 stars  

Laptos to Lesotho provides an opportunity for the Basotho to gain a foothold into the technology age. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Lesotho at a vocational school I know that any and every effort to bring technology into that country is vital. Laptops to Lesotho represents an excellent way to do that......its volunteers have been there and go there.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my dealings with the director.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

find ways to raise more money because of the importance of what it does

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Likely

What specific problem, purpose, priority, or project prompted your gift?

Prior knowledge of the need for computer age training of the Basotho

Why did you make your donation at this time?

I am convinced it is needed.

What would you tell others about this organization?

Check out their website and mission statements.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful?