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Monday, December 19, 2011


Had a spectacular time at our Martinis for OLPC event yesterday. THANK YOU to all who came and drank in support of our students (boy does that sound wrong to type!). We had a great atmosphere, some great people and huge success all around. Even one of the bartenders bought a piece of photography!

Will check in tomorrow with a summary of how much we raised!

If you weren't able to make it, there's still time to donate via the button on the left side of this page.

Thank you for your support!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stella & Dot Joining us for Dec 18 Fundraiser

Great news! Nicole Hensch from Stella & Dot will be joining us to sell jewelry at the martini fundraiser at Marty's Martini Bar on December 18th!

15% of all purchases will benefit STEP UP OLPC, so bring your cash as she'll have some great jewelry to share.

See her Facebook page here!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

MARTINI FUNDRAISER: Sunday, December 18th, 2011!!

Exciting announcement! Marty's Martini Bar in Andersonville (1511 West Balmoral, Chicago), also known as my favorite martini bar in the world, has offered to do a fundraiser for my laptop program in São Tomé!

The event will be from 2-5pm on SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18th. Just in time for the season of giving :)

ALL profit that Marty's makes will go to STEP UP OLPC.

In addition to martinis, we'll also be selling t-shirts and the beautiful photography that the kids have done.

If you'd like to help plan for the event, shoot me an email. I need all the help I can need to set up, schmooze, collect contact information and sell merchandise!

More soon--for now, SPREAD THE WORD!!!

Thanks, everyone!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sustainability and Money

Two important words, of course.

I'm reading The White Man's Burden by William Easterly. In it, he talks about how sustainability can only really be built with personal investment from the people involved. How just shoving money and objects into people's faces isn't going to build sustainable growth.

So then I started thinking about our class in São Tomé and how it would really benefit from a local coordinator who can be trained to understand these laptops, communicate with me regularly and help the teachers out.

At first I was going to find payment for this person though the Embassy of Taiwan. But what if the students funded his pay?

What if we asked each student that wanted to participate in the program to pay the school $12 per year to participate (about 17,000 Dobras, which is less than the price of a beer)? Then, 9 months of the year, a part-time coordinator would earn $100 USD per month from the ~100 students involved. The other $300 USD could go to the school to benefit its own costs (this last detail I'm still unsure about; it might be more prudent to just charge each student $9/year instead).

That way, the kids are invested, as well as their families, without choking up a fortune. There is a local coordinator who is invested and making money, trying to get the program to grow. The teachers are getting extra support and assistance, and the school is making a little bit of money off of it all.

We could also raise money to sponsor those children who are truly not poor enough to afford the class. We could raise $120 per year to put ten students who can't pay otherwise through the program.

What do you think? Is this crazy, or could this work?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

CWS = No go

Looks like no one wants to fund travel. Not even Wellesley's CWS could think of how I could get to São Tomé!

On the hunt again...

Netbooks arrived to teachers today

The five netbooks I sent to São Tomé arrived today in the hands of our teachers. Just got an email from Nélys, absolutely astounded:

 noěs fundo d coraçaŢo...principalmente eu...NEěLYS.

pra ser sincero eu smpre acreditei k tu enviarias......os computdres..mas k n chgssem taŢo cedo...mas enfim...amei....e estou mt tudo isso....imagina soě as caras dosoutros colegas?
   bjs....e mt obrigado!

It's a good feeling when you see the work that the teachers have put into this cause. They deserve those computers. Now onto seeing how I can get myself over there to talk with someone about our OLPC program. Wellesley College CWS (Center for Work and Service), here I come!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Guardian Angels

Today is a new day; I can feel it.

This morning we received three generous donations for our laptop program, one large and one very large. Though all support is encouraged and appreciated, you certainly can't deny that the most generous ones definitely make the greatest impact, and for this I am so grateful.

Thanks to the incredible selflessness demonstrated today, we will be able to buy 75 brand new chargers and 30 power strips (with surge protectors, so they don't blow out again) for our students in São Tomé. We'll also be able to pay for the very expensive shipping that will get them to the students before long, so that they don't have to wait for my next visit to keep things rolling.

This brings me confidence that I can get the funding I need to make the trip to São Tomé again this summer or fall to talk with the appropriate people about growing this program country-wide.

On an unrelated, but possibly quite related, note, it was supposed to be mostly cloudy today with a chance of thunderstorms. However, contrary to the weather prediction, the morning has given way to the most beautiful blue sky. I am eternally thankful for the kindness of people around this world.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Still looking for >$200 USD

Still need over $200 USD just to buy new chargers for our kids (we're ordering 75). This doesn't take the power strips into account. Please donate so we can afford them!!

Thank you!!!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Now what?

Things are at a hiatus, as usual. My contact at AICEP isn't turning out to be as determined to help me during his busy schedule as I would hope.

I talked with Professor Nélys today. It seems he has talked to both the Embassy of Taiwan and the Ministry of Education. Both said they would follow up with him, and both didn't. The Ministry does not believe that the Embassy will cover costs. For some reason, no matter how much the teachers tell them that it won't happen, they think that they are going to have to end up paying something.

While I think about how we're going to re-approach the subject (and if another trip to São Tomé, and another very annoying fundraiser-- not for me but for my friends and family-- is in order), I've sent Nélys on some research. He's going to find out how many students graduated to high school last year, and how that compares to the computer class, to see if there was a noticeable difference. As the school year this year will be ending in a couple of months, we'll have some hard data about two years of school that I am hoping will point to something.

If not, at least we tried.

Fingers crossed.

PS I met a lovely woman at the recent fundraiser at Hillyer in DC who works for IDB, who was interested in pursuing accountability a bit further with me. I never got her contact information but she assured me she would reach out to me after I gave her my card. If you're out there, I'm eagerly waiting to talk to you!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bureaucratics Build

Still trying to get in touch with the Magalhães people OR the Taiwanese Embassy. It's a difficult ride, as per usual. Keep your fingers crossed (and please keep those donations coming in, we have about $555 of our $2,000 goal!)


Monday, February 28, 2011

Fundraiser Report: Thanks So Much!

Thanks to everyone who attended our fundraiser on Friday-- it was a hit and I was so happy to see so many great faces!

We successfully raised $280 in t-shirt and photography sales as well as a wine + chocolate tasting at the event.

We have also raised $275 in online t-shirt sales and donations so far...which brings us to $555 so far for our efforts!!

Thanks for all of the donations so far-- please keep purchasing t-shirts and sending donations so that we can raise the $2,000 we need for a new infrastructure in our laptop program!

Thank you so much!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Buy! Buy! Buy!

T-Shirts are for sale. Click here to place an order! They cost $20 each plus shipping and handling. A steal when you realize that ALL proceeds benefit our program!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

They are Praying

Just had a great convo with Mirian today, one of the teachers at São João.

She told me that the computers have lots of problems -- maybe 17 of them are broken and they are trying to fix them (screen problems and keyboard issues), not including broken chargers and power strips -- but they are fighting to keep class going with everything they have.

I told her about our fundraiser next Thursday in Washington, DC and she was very excited to hear about it.   She said that all of the teachers there will be praying that we make a lot of money for the program.

I've been thinking that we might need to train a local techie in São Tomé, as well as a coordinator. I think we could get away with training a techie $100 per month or something like that. The coordinator would probably need to make more, about $200 to $250 USD per month. An annual budget of $5,000 for these human resources is something we could potentially work with-- if not seeing if the Ministry of Education can provide.

A meeting next week with the Portuguese Trade and Investment Office is in the works. Lots of prayers to go around over the next week for a good turnout and good things to come from Beth driving all the way up the east coast to New York!

If you haven't spread the word yet, please come next week to the STEP UP OLPC fundraiser at the Hillyer Art Space off Dupont Circle in DC. It's on Thursday, Feb 24th at 6pm and it's free with a $5 suggested donation (and lots more suggested donations). We'll also be selling STEP UP OLPC t-shirts, photography done by the kids and we'll have some great music and food.

The Facebook event can be found at

Please come.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Get a shirt!!

Now accepting pre-orders for the coolest shirt you will ever receive!!

Only $20ea plus shipping.

Send me an email at with the number of shirts you would like, the sizes and your shipping address. Then we'll organize payment, likely through PayPal.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Hope everyone can make it to our fundraiser at the Hillyer Art Space off Dupont Circle in Washington, DC on Thursday, February 24th at 6pm!

Millions of thanks to the VOICES crew for organizing this. It's going to be a great event!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Great news!

Great news! Class has resumed as they have been able to fix the power strips. Still hoping to get some new chargers and some power strips with surge protectors so the chargers don't break...but still, great that class has started again!

Olá  Elizabeth
Graças a Deus já reparamos as tomadas.As aulas de informáticas estão a decorrer quase a 100%.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Need $2,000, stat

Like these, but European

 Looking for $2,000 stat to buy new chargers and power strips for the 150 kids in our class. Please donate via link on left OR send a check to the address on the left if you'd like your donation to be tax-deductible.
We cannot continue class without these chargers, so please donate ($5, $10, $100, $1000 or any other amount) today! 
Thank you so much!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Classes have stopped

Great news (sarcasm). Professor Miguel has emailed me to tell me that classes have recently stopped as there are too many broken chargers and power strips to be able to effectively hold class.


Two years in, the computers are holding up great but the chargers and power strips are terrible. Looking for solutions that can keep things going. All of the ones I can think of involve MONEY!

The teachers are moving forward with the Embassy of Taiwan slowly but surely. I feel like I need to go there to talk with the Embassy myself, as the Ministry of Education isn't really doing the job!

Stay tuned for the next episode...


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