Laptops to Lesotho is a small, but admirable organization. With a small group of dedicated people and few resources it is beginning to make an impact in the educational future of children in one of the world's poorest nations, Lesotho. Laptops to Lesotho is endeavoring to provide laptops and internet access to the children of Lesotho. In so doing they are helping the youth of Lesotho to gain access to technology and educational material that would otherwise not be available to them. By providing children of Lesotho with small durable and interconnected laptops they are opening the channels of communication and education among the youth of this impoverished country. This organization, Laptops to Lesotho, and its project is still in the early stages of development, but it is growing. Small investments in this organization could provide large positive results for the children of Lesotho.
I learned about this organization through my wife, and what I learned convinced me that contributing was a very good thing to do. Laptops to Lesotho is a small but very dedicated, active nonprofit that has made considerable progress, considering it's very young. They already have some laptops, and they also have volunteers in place in North America, Lesotho and South Africa, ready and able to help get these laptops to students, and to provide the technical expertise and support for the program. Once the laptops get to Lesotho (later this year) I hope to learn more about how the training went and how the program is received. I have absolutely no doubt given some additional support this program will make real, significant changes in the lives of students and teachers in Lesotho.
I was a PCV in Lesotho from 2007-09. When I first arrived at Ketane, a group of teachers approached me and asked me if I would please teach them computers because they and their students were lacking skills and far behind others from big cities. Living in remote Ketane, which is a 10 hour taxi from the capital, I thought they were joking. Eventually, the idea grew. 7 months later we were all crowded around my laptop in my small mud hut learning the basics of computers because an area bishop had given me a small solar panel for the project. This eventually grew into the first ever computer school in the area and the school now has a large 120w solar panel and 4 computers for approximately 300 children. Of course this is not enough! Janissa Balcomb, a RPCV from Lesotho formed a non-profit to build this computer school and others like it around Lesotho. Even the few laptops we have distributed now have made such an amazing impact in the students' lives and their educational level. I have seen it firsthand!
We are a small young organization but we have already made significant strides in improving the lives of the children in Ketane, Lesotho.
So what sets us apart, and why should you support our work? We have an amazingly talented group of volunteers who are tenacious, energetic, and passionate about our mission. Most have lived and worked in the Ketane community, so we have first-hand knowledge of the immense need for our help and the great potential for improvement, as well as the obstacles we face. We've seen what other aid organizations have tried, what has worked, and what hasn't, and we've learned from their mistakes.
We built a strong organizational foundation and integrated our work into the community at a pace the community is able to absorb and support. We have spent a great deal of time ensuring that the local community is completely engaged and directly invested in the success of this project. Local teachers and principals hold positions of leadership in our organization, and we mentor and train them so they can run the program effectively. We know from experience that this local support and participation is critical to making long-lasting changes.
We have worked with the teachers and the principal, helping them to write detailed rules and regulations for the project along with contracts and fine schedules that each teacher, student, and parent or guardian of a student must sign in order to participate in this program. These documents clarify exactly what each persons responsibilities are in addition to how they will benefit from the program.
We have spent time intensively training the teachers not only in computer skills but also how to use computers in the classroom to enhance the existing curriculum, and we are helping them develop lesson materials with the computers.
I hope you will give us a chance to continue the work we've started to help the children of Ketane.