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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Check out our Feb 28th article in the Union Leader!

Union Leader, The/New Hampshire Sunday News (Manchester, NH)

New Hampshire Sunday News (Manchester, NH)

February 28, 2010
Tiny country, big project

Page: 06


Estimated printed pages: 3

Article Text:
Staff report

Beth Santos has big dreams of making a difference in a very small place.

The place is the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Principe, a little known, two-island nation off the coast of West Africa that was a popular layover spot for 17th-century slave ships heading to the New World.

Santos' dream is to raise money to buy 500 additional laptop computers so she can return to the former Portuguese colony this summer with enough computers for each of the approximate 600 sixth-grade students at São João Secondary School in São Tomé, the capital of the island nation that is about one-third the size of Rhode Island.
It's a daunting challenge, but the former Durham resident and 2008 Wellesley College graduate is up for it.

"It's getting people (in São Tomé and Principe) interested in a new way of thinking and getting them excited about education. ... It's also giving them an interest in helping their country ... and develop problem-solving techniques" that will help them tackle issues of poverty, low literacy and developing a sustainable economy, the 23-year-old explained in a recent telephone interview from Washington, D.C., where she now lives.

"They are trying to figure out how to stand on their own two feet. It's going to take some time. But the kids we have right now ... are the people who are going to be improving the country. We need to start with them," the 2004 Oyster River High School graduate said.

Santos spent two months in São Tomé last fall as a volunteer with STeP UP, a non-governmental organization formally known as São Tomé and Principe Union for Promotion.
Her job was to train teachers and students to use the 100 computers that had been donated to the school last summer by the non-profit group One Laptop Per Child. When Santos arrived at the school in October, the so-called "XO laptops" were sitting in a closet unused.

She took them out, gave them to students and encouraged them to take them home. She began teaching computer classes on Saturday mornings that became so popular, students who didn't have a computer would say they did just to get in, she said.

"Everybody wanted to be in this program," Santos explained.

Santos, who speaks Portuguese, also translated the computer's user manual from English into Portuguese so teachers could use it after she left.

The problem is there were only 100 donated computers for a sixth-grade class of 612 students, Santos said. Without enough computers for each student, teachers were limited in what they could teach, she said.

Santos has been trying to raise money to buy the extra 500 laptops since she returned home to Washington in December.

The computers cost about $235 each. (Visit for information on how to donate to this project.)

Santos said computer literacy could make a huge difference in the economic development of São Tomé and Principe, a poor nation whose inhabitants are mostly descendants of slaves, and whose economy relies heavily on cocoa, coffee and fish.

Copyright, 2010, Union Leader Corp.
Record Number: mandc5-5tcfeh4mwwo94hcndke

1 comment:


Please click the button below to donate to STEP UP OLPC to support the São João school's computer program in São Tomé:

Donate $200 and you will be paying for a computer for at least FIVE very special children at São João (as estimated computer life is five years). Thanks so much!

Want your donation to be tax-deductible? Send a check to STeP UP with OLPC in the memo. Then mail it to:

Eric McClafferty
Kelley and Drye
3050 S St. NW, #400
Washington, DC 20007