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Monday, February 22, 2010

USB Ethernet Adapters on sale now!

Now actively selling the USB Ethernet adapters that I got from OLPC.

See the Craigslist ad here. Email me for more info or to buy one. Also consider donating more money than the $25 since it all goes to a great cause!

OLPC Learning Club / The Program is Great / Monies

So much news this beautiful Monday morning!

OLPC Learning Club

Hit up the OLPC Learning Club in DC this weekend. It was an amazing experience meeting so many passionate and interested people. Media master Luke even gave me tips on how I can fix some of the broken computers in São Tomé, and where to buy replacement parts for things like Kadema's screen so that those computer can be used again. I also know how to fix the key on some of the computers. Hurray!!

It looks like when I get back to São Tomé, I'll be doing a few things, including:

  • Bringing more computers
  • Conducting a computer repairs class with teachers (and perhaps some of the students too??)
  • Getting kids in the old program to make a video together on how to use the XO for future sixth grade classes
I'm very excited to get these things going, as it will definitely make the program more sustainable in the long run.

All in all, the meeting in DC was great and I'm very excited to be constantly surrounded by so many truly inspirational people. On a more personal note, Wayan at OLPC News has piqued my interest in a subject called Information Communication, particularly in the area of international development. There's a talk at American University tomorrow that I'm very excited to hit up.

The Program is Going Great!
Got another check-in email from Miguel today. Last week I had asked him to talk to the teachers about how the program is going and to evaluate everything for me. The last thing I want to do is be this Western-educated white woman with no knowledge of how things are in São Tomé, waltzing in and trying to convince these people that computers are the way to go. The point of the XO is for people to develop their own learning in a way that lets them cater the experience to their own culture. So I wanted to make sure that was working.

Miguel said he read my email word-for-word in front of all the teachers. He asked them how things were moving for them. The vote was unanimous- the program is going great and the teachers strongly believe that this is exactly what São Tomé needed as a way to improve the education process that they have going there. The teachers also said that they themselves are very much enjoying the program, too.

In terms of ways to improve what we have going, Miguel suggests we get in touch with the São Tomean government as we look for support for the program. I agree with this, and think a few meetings with the government will be very much in order when I come back, so we can clear a few things up.

Miguel also says that the teachers still have not yet been paid by the Ministry of Education, though the director of the school insists that he filed the necessary documentation and it's only a matter of time until they get paid. Oh how I hope that this is true and that there isn't corruption happening there. Otherwise, I will pay those teachers myself, goddammit...or maybe, very cautiously, use donor money (with appropriate permission) the program can't go on without the teachers being paid. The only huge issue with this is that of the big S word, sustainability.

I am so happy to know that the program is going well.

The famous Luke told me at the OLPC Learning Club that the large supply of USB 2.0 Ethernet adapters I have in my room can be sold for $20-$25 a pop as a fundraiser to support our program. I'm going to try selling one on EBAY and one on Craigslist and see what happens if I explain the program and try to get people to donate more than the $20-25 requested. I'd love to be able to make a small fortune with them in order to put it toward our goal. In fact, three people at the Learning Club bought Ethernet I've already made about $60 thanks to them!!

Ned at STeP UP has been my saving grace- his financial people in DC have made it so that any donations going to STeP UP with "OLPC" in the memo will be stowed and recorded separately. This is great for us, as it's difficult for me to keep track of the money myself. Now whenever I get a donation in my name I can just cut STeP UP a check and the system works for me.

That's everything for now. Looking at a couple of potential private donors. Met a great new friend yesterday that works in the Reagan building here in DC. He's like ten steps above me in terms of the "giving money" process...but he gave me some really good insight about how a small initiative like mine, part of a small organization in even a smaller country, can vouch for funding. Thanks Jonathan!

Hope all is well with everyone. Be sure to check out when you get a chance. It's a travel blog that I started, we have some amazing writers on it, and we're trying to boost our readership! And click some ads while you're at it. The more money I can make with this (so far I think we've made about seven cents on our advertising), the less I have to worry about making rent this month, the more I can focus on OLPC. So really, taking care of me is directly related to the education of about 500 sixth grade students in São Tomé (right?).

Peace to all.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

We're on Facebook!

Come be a Facebook friend to STEP UP OLPC!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spreading the Word!!

1. Check us out on the OLPC Blog!!
2. Check us out (soon) in the NH Union Leader!!
3. Check us out with the Prime Minister of São Tomé, whose audience we have next week as we try to take this program one step closer to him!

I thought we'd hit up the PM to see (1) if the STP government DOES have any money on hand to work this program (for sustainability purposes, it's not the best idea to have the USA constantly sending in funds) and (2) to see if they can work the shipment of these computers once we have them because that's going to be a really tricky issue. Really, just having the PM on our side at all is a great idea, so thanks to a freelance journalist I met who does work in STP and is going to be talking to the PM next week, we now have a great audience for the program!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Laptop #8!!

Just got Laptop #8! Thanks so much to Marc from Kentucky!!!


I'm going to say this very quietly in case it doesn't work out but...

...we might have some journalist interest in our project!!

Also, it seems like the teachers are a bit low on morale these days. I feel bad to make them constantly keep me updated with what's going on at the school-- I feel like it might take Miguel a while to type up the summaries. Any ideas as to how I can give him a little boost? Maybe a care package of sorts, payment, something...?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Money Money Money, and other things

Grantseeking for Dummies
Heading to a Grantseeking Basics class at the Foundation Center's DC office this Friday. Hopefully it will get me out of this deer-stuck-in-headlights feeling and help me identify some potential donors for our program.

Financial donations and laptop donations have all come to a lull. We're hoping to raise money at a small hip hop event in April or May called VOICES, or Voices Organizing for International Change, Empowerment and Support. They put on music and film events every month while raising money for non-profits around the African continent. I'd like to see if I can't get the Ambassador to come join us, as well as other members of the São Tomé community here in DC (small as it may be).

Ex-Pat Help
My friend Sosimo, who is São Tomean and works at Voice of America, is going to get together with me for lunch one of these days so we can brainstorm our options. I keep trying to work myself into the Lusophone community to see if there's money there, then suddenly get pushed out again. I'm hoping to get back in the game soon. Failure is not the falling down but the staying down, right?

Haiti Deployment
Despite a very selfish yet still slight jealousy that Haiti is getting all the used XOs, a fellow Wellesley alum recently contacted me about a Haiti deployment being developed with OLPC and Waveplace, a nonprofit in Boston. Sounds like a really great group that wants to do some amazing work for the people of Haiti. I myself have been learning French (one step closer to Creole, right?) and would love to go down and help with a deployment in the next year or two.

That's news for now!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

$7 away...

Got seven bucks? Help buy our 8th computer for São João!!

Or make a bigger impression by talking to your company, local news source, or other organization and see if you can help with a donation of ten or more computers.

News for the day:

Right now we're looking for media attention. If you know of anyone interested in following our adventures, or if you want to write/blog/video about it on your own, please get in touch with me.

Might be doing an event in April at the Hillyer Art Space near Dupont Circle. Will keep you all posted on if it's happening!!

Got another email from Miguel. Things are going well and kids are still creating their email addresses. It looks like the classes are now being divided between kids that have email and kids that don't, so that the kids without email can create their own accounts.  I'm not sure what the kids with email are doing. I would hope that they are working on a new project, but Miguel hasn't given me much detail.

The kids are continuing to write me emails and respond to everything I write. It is adorable. And also very tiring because I feel like I need to respond to each and every one!

That is news for today.

B-Sizzle, aka Timestopper, aka Maximum Beth

Thursday, February 4, 2010

$20 away...

Today we're $20 away from having enough funds to buy our 8th computer.

Help us cross the line today and make a donation!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Press Release!!

Click here to download the press release. Would love your help sending it out to everywhere and everyone!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Contact: Beth Santos,, 603.661.1273,

Middle School in São Tomé e Príncipe Begins Computer Program; Lacks Funds

A new computer literacy program headed by a young New Hampshire native is putting one of the earth's smallest nations on the World Wide Web.

On Saturday mornings, 100 students and five teachers at the São João secondary school, on the small West African island of São Tomé e Príncipe, cram themselves into a single classroom. Students sweat bullets in a room that often has no electricity, spending four hours typing on bright green energy-efficient laptop computers. The supplementary class is headed by 23 year-old teacher Beth Santos and São Tomean computer professor Miguel Afonso da Boa Esperança. After receiving 100 laptop computers through MIT's One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program, São João chose 100 sixth grade students to participate in a developmental milestone for the school and the country.

Through 100-computer deployments all over the world, One Laptop per Child (OLPC) aims to supply laptop computers to schools in disadvantaged countries. The computers are fully equipped with a camera and microphone, wifi access and a Linux-based operating system called Sugar. Yet the laptops come with higher expectations than just developing skills in word processing, photography and research science. It is the hope of OLPC that the computers will nurture students' sense of creativity and discovery, promoting an interest in education that will expand country-wide. The computers are highly personalized to reflect the progress of one individual student's advancing use, allowing students to take them home and share them regularly with family and friends.“These students are so excited to learn, it's amazing,” Santos says. “Kids regularly come to class that aren't even ours. They're blatantly lying to us in order to get a chance to participate.”

The program has made headlines across the island in both media and government sectors. It has also accrued interest in Portugal (of which São Tomé e Príncipe is a former colony) and OLPC's hometown, Cambridge, Massachusetts, where OLPC's own have lauded the São João school's success.

However, the school is desperately short on computers for its sixth grade class, as the initial donation of 100 computers is significantly less than the size of the current sixth grade, which is 612 students. For this reason, the computers cannot be utilized during class time, because they are not accessible to everyone. “We so desperately want to be able to use these computers the way they're supposed to be used- during all disciplines, every day of the week,” Santos says. “Right now the program is great but it's lacking a very fundamental element because there is just no funding.” Once the school acquires enough computers for its students, the computers will be redistributed to the next sixth grade class for as many years as possible.

Santos and Esperança both hope that, with enough computers to serve the sixth grade – a critical year before a transition to high school that only some students make – more students will be eager to learn, to become educated and to improve the circumstances of an impoverished country.

Back at home in Washington, D.C., Santos is working to bring more computers to the São João School. When she's not busy seeking corporate or foundational sponsorship, Santos coaches a high school crew team and is editor of Go Girl Magazine, a blog for independent women who travel. She also receives enthusiastic emails from her students on a regular basis – emails from children that, at the beginning of the school year, had never touched a computer in their lives. “Every time I get an email from one of them, I get excited all over again,” she says. “Hardly anyone at that school speaks a word of English. Now they're connecting to each other and to the world outside. They're realizing that there is so much more out there.”

For more information about the program or to make a donation, please visit To learn more about OLPC, visit

Monday, February 1, 2010


Here are some of our media mentions:

University of Illinois Bloggers
(They made the program happen in the first place)


Links about Beth and the program

The São Tomé Blog cites the Santomean OLPC Project (01/25/10)


A Saigon-based OLPC Volunteer who came to my talk in Cambridge had some really great feedback about the program and my talk (12/31/09)

The Presentation I gave, via the OLPC Wiki (12/30/09):

A really kind blog that gave great mention to our program in São Tomé and just what we're trying to do (12/27/09)

Some internet talk about the program (12/27/09)


A February meeting announcement at the Washington, DC OLPC Learning Club. I'll be heading there on February 20, 2010 to talk with volunteers based down here.


Caroline Meeks of OLPC posted a few videos from my talk on December 30, 2009 at the OLPC offices in Cambridge, MA. Watch them here:


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