Adam Holt is with Unleash Kids in western Ghana these days. He has been sharing photos when he gets the chance.
Adam Holt is with Unleash Kids in western Ghana these days. He has been sharing photos when he gets the chance.
(This is written by the parents of Adam Holt. It is exactly 50 years since we taught school in West Africa and travelled in these countries. Very exciting to see these updates!)
Photos being shared from Coastal Ghana. There have been travel glitches, but all in all, an eye opening exciting experience. Some of the early photos from Accra: people, architecture, market crafts, train tracks, casino lights. And then a few more….kites, little people, hardware and food for sale, point to what ailes you, masks, fabric, letter writers (typewriters!) and more.
Today was a shopping day for our son in Accra, Ghana, for electronic materials for a girls school nearby:
[Solar/battery/wire supplies acquired here in town today after much scrambling/research over past 36 hrs especially to piece together a Girls High School’s digital library they’re calling Internet-in-a-Box.
Representing 6 months of procurement, coming to a close, or very close..Ghana strangely has very little clue about solar energy for now.
This store’s actually called “DEVICE: tech addiction”]
“Thanks to George & Ishmael who took time to drive us around and make calls from their old van Thur/Fri. Since they were both raised in the town where we’re headed, they hope these education ventures lead the dying slave port town in some more hopeful directions.
In this photo, George is just counting the small notes with Maryanne, paying 1000 GH₵ for two 100W solar panels, at a huge/empty engineering supplier “Deng Ltd” who service generators / inverters etc all around the region including Liberia etc.This is about US $300.”
A little awhile ago, we plugged in the final component to the solar power system here at the orphanage. There’s still some tweaks to be made over the coming week, but I can officially report that everything is actually working. We’ll be able to provide 24/7 power to the server, charge 25 laptops, and light 10 rooms during the evening hours. Before, the city was only giving 5 hours of power a day, on a good day. Now, the 65 kids here don’t have to wait for the grid to switch on. As long as there’s sun, they’ll have access whenever they want to computers and Internet. And there’s plenty of sun here.
I want to take this opportunity to thank three groups that made this possible: Oyster Point Rotary Club, the Rotary Club of City Center, and the Office of Community Engagement at William & Mary. We’ve installed a pretty ambitious set-up here, and we would never have been able to dream so big without their support.
Unloading panels from the truck.
Heading up the stairs with one of the panels.
Silar talking about the right angle for the sun to hit things.
Passing wire through the window to the battery room.
Hooking up the panels.
Of course, none of this would be possible without people also contributing their energy and expertise. Thanks to the Unleash Kids team – this is the fourth solar installation our members have worked on in Haiti, and they’re getting bigger and better every time. Also, shout out to Ben and Shuyan, who stepped in at the last moment to build some charging set-ups for the school they support and then generously let us borrow one to use at the orphanage instead. Finally, Silar himself, the pastor in charge of the orphanage here, used to be an electrician. In the end, when I say “we”, I actually mean “Silar did it while I watched and Adam and George advised on the phone.” Of course, I’m learning a lot through this whole process too, and gradually getting to the point where I can do a little more.
When I went to the hardware store here in Haiti to buy the last pieces, there were some other foreigners also looking at panels. They turned out to be a solar installation group from a university. They asked what I came here for, and the list was a little longer: “Well, we do solar, but we also work with servers and Internet. Plus laptops. And, you know, education.” Sometimes, all those pieces really do feel overwhelming. Often, at least one of them is getting to be extremely frustrating, at any given moment. But, at the end of the day, I’m glad our group is looking at the whole picture. Our volunteers don’t just address half of the problem. We look at it all, and we keep coming back, making improvements, and moving forward.
I am a proud friend of the Unleash Kids team. I have visited Silar and am thrilled with this project. This system is quite revolutionary using only 24V Direct Current across the buildings to save energy: The goal will be to help Silar month-by-month graphing his different kinds of electrical usages (and internet usages) to better enable his 70+ kids.
Back in Haiti, everyone. Arrived in Bois D’Avril last night and spent the morning observing classes at the local school. If I’m going to be working in education here, I need to get a better understanding of what’s going on in lots of different locations. All of our other laptop projects outside of Port-au-Prince are in market towns, but Bois D’Avril is a small farming village up in the mountains. I first came here back in the summer to set up the laptops; while I’m here I stay with John and Deb, a Canadian couple who have been here for 33 years and really care about making a small but lasting difference.
The school’s expanded within the last year from around 30 students to around 60. There are four teachers and four classrooms, teaching grades K-5. There’s not enough space in the little yellow school building for everyone, so fourth and fifth graders meet in the downstairs area of John and Deb’s home. That’s also where our laptop project is housed.
Class starts at 8 in the morning, stop for a snack / recess break at 10:30, and resumes around 11. On Fridays they go until 12 only; the rest of the week they go until 2. The kids just got down with the state exams, and this coming Monday will be their last day before winter vacation.
I started the morning in the first-grade class. Christelle, the school’s director, sat in a tiny room (about the size of a walk-in closet) crammed with 8 kids, desks, and a chalkboard. In Haiti, students normally sit in rows on benches with sloped writing surfaces. This room had some of those, but there was also a round table, probably donated.
Christelle opened the lesson by introducing me and encouraging the kids to ask me questions. I ended up answering and asking “What is your name?” eight different times. Christelle asked the kids if they had used the computers and used the fact that the computers have a turtle to transition to a silly rhyme about a turtle from the textbook. The kids had heard it before and tried to recite it, but it was nonsensical and in French, so I doubt they knew what they were saying. Then, Christelle started language class. I’m pretty sure the book was intended for French practice because the chapter title was in French, but Christelle did all the discussion in Creole. She asked the kids what they saw in the pictures and pointed out the different pieces of the car like the tire and the engine, as well as tools like wrenches. The kids seemed to know more or less what was going on, and contributed when they could. Christelle emphasized throughout that going to school and studying hard is important: “if you study hard, you can get a car like this someday? And what if your car breaks? If you study hard, you’ll have money to pay the mechanic.”
After that, the children pulled out their own books and opened to a page about the letter ‘S.’ Christelle told them that ‘S’ is the first letter in “silans”; one girl muttered “segond” and Christelle congratulated her for making the connection. Then, the kids read some syllables to review other letter sounds – just random combinations of vowels and consonants that they recited line by line in unison. Most of them seemed to know what they were doing – every so often, one would mess up and go to the next column instead of the next row, and they’d still get it right. Christelle had to break the rhythm several times in order to remind them that the accented e sound is shorter than the regular e sound.
Numbers 1 – 100.
When I returned to the classroom after snack / recess break to take photos, the kids were copying down the numbers from 1 – 100, which Christelle had written on the blackboard for them. Christelle was setting up ID card photos with some people from the community, so she couldn’t be in the room with them and might have just been giving them something to do.
The kindergarten class was in a larger room decorated with flags. The 15 students were grouped at round tables and the young male teacher stood at the front of the room at a chalkboard. Not all the students were facing him, but at least at the beginning of the lesson most seemed to be paying attention. The teacher would write a letter on the board, and then pair it up with several vowels: “a”, “e”, “i”, “o”, and “u.” First, for example, the kids said “That’s the letter F!” in unison. Then, the teacher made the letter’s sound for them (“f” says “fffffff”) and had the students all repeat it. Then, he asked: “What do ‘f’ and ‘a’ make?” and pointed to the syllable; the class said “fa” together. The teacher went down the list, stopping to correct the student’s pronunciation of “e” and “u” each time – the French versions of these vowels are different from the Creole version. The teachers’ questions and the students’ responses were in French, but the repetition made it easy for the students to understand. The kids applauded after this process was finished for each letter.
The teacher was getting a little frustrated with the pronunciation problems (and the students were getting a little bored), so he kept his patience and transitioned to a “circle the vowel” activity. He wrote the vowels up on the board, including ‘y’ this time. He wrote a series of words underneath. No one knew what a vowel was when he asked, but the first kid he called up to the board successfully circled all of them, maybe by just looking at the shapes. The next two kids both struggled and took a long time; the class lost interest quickly and started chatting among themselves and trying to get my attention. The teacher kept pushing valiantly through things. Some of the words he wrote on the board were in Creole, but most were in French. After the vowel activity, the teacher wrote up the vowels again and reminded the kids that “these are vowels and they are very important.” Then, he moved on to colors, which most people participated in loudly. The teacher made sure to show the cards a second time to a table that was being particularly quiet. After break, the teacher passed out coloring books and crayons, and everyone got to work, demonstrating some impressive staying-in-the-lines skills.
Throughout the class, the teacher seemed to be consulting a textbook that he held in his hand, behind his back. You have to go through his room to get to the supply room and bathroom, so class was constantly interrupted by passing students. The supply room also had a bed: at one point, when a girl fell asleep, the teacher carried her back there for a nap.
2nd & 3rd Grade
I moved on to the second and third graders, a group of 17 combined into one classroom and seated on desk-benches in front of a board. Roberta, their teacher, was calling them individually to the front to check their prepared reading in French. Some had a page and a half (a few paragraphs) to read; others were just pronouncing words next to pictures. Roberta was seated, held the book, and pointed to the words with a black permanent marker that someone had to procure from the supply room. Most of the kids read fairly quickly and had decent pronunciation. The few mistakes Roberta corrected them on were errors that resulted from guessing too quickly: “retire des sandals” (take off shoes) as opposed to the correct “retire des privileges” (take away privileges) and “commencement” (beginning) vs. “commerçant” (merchant). But, those words also really didn’t make too much sense in the context of the passage. Roberta checked student understanding with the translation section printed underneath each passage. Students were supposed to translate Creole sentences into French, but the sentences were from the passage, so all they had to do was find the appropriate point and read. I was glad the kids could read Creole, and at least they’d done their homework because they found the “translations” pretty quickly for the most part.
When I came back after the break, Roberta had written “Je vais tous les jours a l’ecole” (I go to school every day) on the board and the students were copying it to practice their handwriting, in cursive. Each kid had a notebook paper with 25 lines, and they were supposed to go all the way down the page, one line at a time. Of course, I was a welcome distraction in this scenario. One kid asked me to write a sentence to “prove that you know how to write”; then everybody was trying that trick. Roberta went around the room checking papers and telling kids to write the each sentence out instead of doing the words one at a time in columns. The students often forgot a letter at some point and then continued to make the same mistake on all the subsequent sentences. Two sisters in the front row finished quickly and spent the rest of class flipping through their science textbooks and singing. Everyone else struggled. Most got halfway down the page, although others did manage to get it done closer towards the end of class.
Over break and as classes were ending, I had the chance to talk to the teachers. None of them are Bois D’Avril locals – they’re all from the city, Port-au-Prince, and they go home on the weekends. Christelle’s been making the trips for three years; the other two just started this school year, 3 months ago (I think some of the regular folks are out on maternity leave). Roberta has 3 years of teaching experience, whereas the male teacher had 6, working with an international organization. Both of them studied education in seminaire.
I asked the male teacher whether he learned about how to teach reading in school or from his international organization. He explained that he’s had to come up with his own methods, suited to Haiti and the government curriculum, because neither experience really prepared him. I talked with Roberta about the students’ French reading abilities. She’s proud of how far they’ve come. I asked if they ever get time to practice writing and she explained it’s all copying things down from the board. Both teachers used cursive (ekriti kole) when writing, which I personally think is more difficult to read than print. Roberta explained that it’s faster to write than print. It also seemed to be what textbooks wanted for the sections where a student was supposed to write something.
Some of the parents started coming around as everything was wrapping up. Most all of them are farmers, raising pepper, carrots, and potatoes on the steep slopes. Some can read. Roberta told me that kids can also get help from the older kids with their homework.
Christelle and I also talked a little bit about the 4th and 5th graders, who I didn’t get a chance to see. Many of them don’t have parents and are very difficult to control – she’s basically given up on them, and is much more hopeful about the first graders. The 4th and 5th grade teacher is also male and recently hired; the other day he attempted to beat everyone with a belt for not doing their homework. Deb wants to get rid of him, but Christelle’s in charge, and recruiting teachers who are willing to come all the way up here is difficult.
Overall, I can’t say I wasn’t expecting any of this, but it was worthwhile to see it in action as an observer – normally when I’m visiting somewhere, I’m busy working or I just have other roles besides a pair of eyes. It’s clear that the teachers I saw really care about the kids and are pushing them to succeed. I should also note that the Friday after exams and before winter break is not a good time to really make any judgments about the actual situation.
But it looks like at some point teachers were getting tired and running out of things to do with the kids, hence the more mindless activities like copying the numbers. Classes are small enough here and the teachers have enough support to do things differently, but those kinds of changes will take some creativity and willingness to adapt on the part of both the teachers and the students. The teachers were taught with these same methods and it worked for them, after all.
This is where I’m thinking technology might be helpful – it’s a new, fresh context for the kids to apply what they’re learning and explore new things. But, the 4th and 5th graders have apparently been skipping those classes; others are excited but it will take time before they really understand these machines. The kids here have never heard of Facebook or Google; they don’t even have phones. I’m actually excited about that because I think it means they will be more open to the possibilities than kids who think they already know what computers are for, but it still means this will take time.
To mark World Environment Day, June 5, 2014, Oxfam officially launched a report entitled "Climate Change Resilience: The Case of Haiti" at the Hotel Montana in Pétionville. Report in English and French: http://policy-practice.oxfamamerica.org/static/media/files/rr-climate-change-resilience-haiti-260314-en.pdf
My friend wrote to tell me about this:
Just amazing to hear about my son’s travels with friends in Nepal. My son sent me this URL by a friend, saying it is the short version. (I fear what he means by this…)
Thank you Nick!
These photos and text are MARVELOUS!
They will be teaching children about laptops before returning home.
By Joe Colas
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) — An initiative to organize a series of town hall meetings in different regions of Haiti has created more proximity between the Caribbean country’s government and communities which have engaged in an open dialogue over actions to be taken to meet people’s real needs, officials say.
“It makes such a difference when you go on the ground, hear firsthand the demands and the priorities expressed by those who are targeted by the government’s actions,” Lamothe said.
During the sixth meeting of the kind held on Saturday, Lamothe announced measures to support and help increase local agricultural production in Jeremie and surrounding districts, to increase police personnel, build more road infrastructure, hospitals, to set up community restaurants, computer labs, professional schools etc.
After each meeting, a follow-up commission is formed to make sure commitments made are materialized.
By Sora Edwards-Thro
The other day, Adam and I spoke with the teachers from Cazeau about how classes are going there. This is their sixth week with this group, which means they’re midway through the new lesson guide, and so far, so good. With half the course behind us, it’s a good time to take a look at everything that came together to make this happen.
Step 1: Get a good group to work with.
You’ll notice that every step of the process is, in the end, a combination of both social and technical engineering. Luckily, we had people on our side with the range of skills we needed.
First off, none of this would have happened without our experienced, enthusiastic partners, Hope for Haiti’s Children. Special thanks to Ken Bever, who orchestrated it all (and bonus, can successfully navigate Haitian traffic jams to do it), and Lisa Hendrick, who first reached out to us.
Ken meets with local teachers, principals, and directors about the project.
All the Haitians behind this project are the true reason for its success. Thanks to them and our Haitian trainers, Junior and Jeanide, for welcoming us to their country and making the learning happen.
Student portrait of a teacher as a hero wielding his secret weapon, the XO laptop.
Finally, our crack team of volunteers… Adam Holt, Tim Moody, George Hunt, Curt Thompson, and his wife Chi worked under the beating sun and long into the night to get electrons flowing and signals broadcasting.
Tim, Curt, and Adam up on the roof to get a better vantage point.
Step 2: Get to know the place and people
One of the first things I did when I got to Haiti, a month before training even started, was visit the site accompanied by Junior and Jeanide. There are lots of questions to answer when you’re attempting something like this. Things like “What happens if the electricity cuts out?” and “Will the wireless signal reach from the school to the church?” but also “What does the principal of the school think of this program?” and “Will we be working with kids from the school, or just from the orphanage?” Visiting early was a way to get a head start on finding the answers.
I took photos of the electrical set-up to give our team a better idea of what to prepare for.
Step 3: Get ready
The week before the big launch, six teachers attended training sessions with me, Junior, and Jeanide. Teaching computers is about so much more than the correct button to press.
Even the teachers sometimes get stumped on our Haiti map quiz.
This group caught on to the basics quickly and then impressed me with creative cartoons, flowcharts, and pictures. They even started getting ahead of us – one teacher asked me if instead of connecting the computers one to another, they could all connect to a central computer. “What you just described is a server,” I told him. “We’ll be getting it here next week.”
Step 4: Get set
“Getting it here” is actually a pretty complicated process, of course. First, the pieces flew down with our tech team. These guys don’t waste time – their first hours in Haiti were spent surveying the site.
The kids are used to doing their homework on the landing, so we made sure the connection would be strong there.
The job was made harder by the fact that we were technically dealing with two locations. The school and orphanage are right next to each other, but the directors didn’t want students crossing into the orphanage side. So we adapted and ended up installing two different access points, one for each place.
George stringing cable over the wall.
Access point installed in the main school room.
I should also mention that the team put together software customized for our Haiti course, so another task was spending a few hours updating all the computers with it.
Chi and Sora testing laptops. That stack in the back is all the ones left to do.
The first day of class, we divided the kids into teams and had a competition to see which one could take the best photos.
Off to take photos.
Teacher guiding the mouse.
Picking out the best photo.
Listening to photo presentations.
Team with the most votes gets a prize.
Show’s not over.
Our work doesn’t end when we leave the location. For one thing, after Cazeau, the team visited three more schools in three days, installing solar power in one and a server at another. But also because even after they got home, they continue to tackle issues like wireless connection difficulties that are so complex they can only be resolved after a stream of emails between smart people all around the world. And, of course, in our monthly conversations with the teachers, they report on their own progress and give us inspiration for new improvements that will make things easier for them and more fun for their students.
It’s been great to be a part of this work and watch the pieces come together. Seeing the kids smiling, sharing, and learning makes all the work worth it.
A plan has been launched by the Dominican Government to recover and preserve Los Haitises National Park in the northeast of the country – a beautiful area which is the island of Hispaniola’s only rainforest.
To ensure the protection of the area, a 3-year deadline to halt all human activity within the protected area, has been put in place.
The Los Haitises National Park boasts unrivaled biodiversity fed by 110 rivers and streams and the most rainfall in the entire island of Hispaniola.
Dressed in sterile white work clothes, and a hair net, Sergine Brice is proud of her job. “I never imagined I could, one day, make a tablet by myself,” she said.
Unemployed for a year after losing her position in a phone company, Brice, 22, was not sure she had the skills when she took the job after Sûrtab opened last year.
“When I arrived and realized the job deals with electronic components, I was wondering if I would be able to do it. But when I finished my first tablet … I felt an immense pleasure,” she said.
Her family and friends were skeptical. “None of them believed me,” she said. “Tablets made in Haiti? What are you talking about?” they told her.
“Haitians have in our minds the idea that nothing can be done in this country. I proved that yes, we Haitians have the capacity to do many things,” she said. “It’s not just Americans or Chinese. We’ve got what they’ve got, so we can do it too.”
Sûrtab is hoping to diversify its product line beyond tablets, said Patrick Sagna, director of business development.
“We want to establish a presence in the software sector. We are in contact with people from San Francisco who are ready to work with Haitian developers,” he said.
Sûrtab’s investors are looking to build an applied science graduate school, as well as looping in Haiti’s skilled arts and crafts industry to help with design.
“Rather than importing covers for our tablets, we will produce them locally,” said Sagna. “We want our packaging, made with recycled and recyclable materials, to become a traveling cultural exhibition to highlight Haitian culture around the world,” he added.
Few Haitians bought the alternative stoves, in large part because even the cheapest cost $10, while charcoal stoves go for as little as $2. The liquefied petroleum gas stoves aimed at commercial and institutional users cost about $100. The World Bank says nearly 80 per cent of Haiti’s 10 million people live on less than $2 a day.
I’m a fan of A Mighty Girl‘s site: http://www.amightygirl.com/
Here’s one reason why:
Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta were graduate students at Columbia University’s School of Architecture in 2010 when a devastating earthquake struck Haiti. In one of their classes, they were assigned to develop a new innovation to help with disaster relief. Many students focused on designing shelters but, after speaking to a relief worker in Haiti, the two discovered that an often-ignored need following disasters was access to light. The pair focused on designing a solar-powered lantern and spent several years refining their design. Now their inflatable, waterproof, and solar-powered light — called the LuminAID Solar Light — is being distributed to those in need in several countries.
Their unique lantern is designed to meet the needs of people in the aftermath of a disaster but many outdoor enthusiasts have also become fans of its innovative design (it even made National Geographic’s 2013 Gear of the Year list). After being charged in the sun for six hours, the LED light provides up to 16 hours of light — a feature that not only makes it more eco-friendly but essential in emergency situations when batteries are hard to find. Due to its inflatable design, it also provides diffuse light like a lantern so it can be used to illuminate a room or tent. Moreover, since disasters often involve water, Stork and Sreshta made it waterproof and able to float.
They also made sure to add a sturdy handle to the light because, as Stork explains, “We heard that in the tent cities people really wanted something they could easily take to the latrine at night, so it was very handy to have a handle to carry it around.” And, because they can be packed flat, 50 LuminAID lights can be shipped in the same space needed for 8 conventional flashlights — an especially significant difference when humanitarian organizations are sending relief aid in large volumes.
When the two young social entrepreneurs founded their company, LuminAID, they used a crowdsourced fundraising campaign to raise the capital needed for their first batch of 1,000 lights. They have since created a Give Light Project where for each light purchased on their website, the buyer can donate a light to one of four project sites. Over the past year, they have distributed more than 5,000 lights across projects in 15 countries and their current campaign supports NGO partners working in Haiti, Ghana, India, and the Philippines. As they grow, they hope to expand their reach by working with large, international aid organizations.
As the LuminAID has gone from class project to a real relief tool, the pair are more driven than ever to get it into the hands of those in need during disasters. As Sreshta explains, “conditions once the sun goes down can be very unsafe, especially for women and children. After the earthquake in Haiti, there were many cases of violence, kidnapping and rape. Light is a basic human need, but [conventional technology] costs too much to ship and pack as part of disaster relief.” Now, thanks to the work of these two creative innovators, more people will have access to the gift of light during the darkest of times.
To learn more about Anna and Andrea’s invention and how to buy/donate your own LuminAID, visit their website at http://www.luminaid.com/. They can also be ordered via Amazon.com at http://amzn.to/1cC4LcA
For a wonderful book about female innovators and inventors throughout history, check out “Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women” for readers 8 to 13 at http://www.amightygirl.com/girls-think-of-everything
Or, for younger readers age 4 to 9, we highly recommend “Rosie Revere, Engineer” about an budding young inventor at http://www.amightygirl.com/rosie-revere-engineer
A Mighty Girl also has a section highlighting stories that feature poverty and hardship as a significant theme. Such stories provide opportunities for parents to discuss these topics with their children while also helping to foster children’s empathy for people living in difficult circumstances. Learn more at http://www.amightygirl.com/books/social-issues/poverty-hardship
And, if you’re looking for ways to encourage your children to become the next engineering and technology innovators, visit A Mighty Girl’s STEM toy section at http://www.amightygirl.com/toys/toys-games/science-math
A brief story from Haiti about water, kids and education.
To my mind, time for play is critical.
Watch here: http://www.upworthy.com/matt-damon-asked-a-cheery-13-year-old-what-shell-do-with-her-free-time-her-answer-gave-him-pause
I believe that play, time for exploration and tinkering are educational ingredients.
And what kind of play? Well watch these two short talks!
Mr Gallon said the UN “should be the first to honour” the principle of compensation for victims of human rights violations.
He added that “silence is the worst of responses” to a “catastrophe caused by human action”.
The second floor Green Library display cases currently showcase 1,800 years of history on one of the Caribbean’s most misunderstood islands. “Haiti: An Island Luminous” also shows what one FIU student can create with the right motivation.
The exhibit, on display until Feb. 28 and permanently available online, is the creation of doctoral candidate Adam Silvia MA ’09 and FIU’s Digital Library of the Caribbean director Brooke Wooldridge MA ’07. They wanted to construct a complete and functional database of Haitian history.
In 2009, Silvia – who is writing his dissertation on Haiti – came to Wooldridge with a problem. FIU’s Digital Library of the Caribbean was overflowing with information on Haiti, but needed context to be understood.
She initially challenged him to provide 40 PowerPoint slides of context, but Silvia realized that 40 slides would not be enough. So he came up with a different approach.
“The task was to take raw archival content and present it in a way that you do not have to be a historian to approach, interpret and understand it,” Silvia said.
The final product is a chronological tale of Haiti from its indigenous beginnings to the devastating earthquake of 2010.
With support from the University of Florida, Latin American and Caribbean Center and a $20,000 grant from the Green Family Foundation, he attended conferences and gathered the commentary necessary to build an exhibit that offered not just historical information, but a learning/teaching tool useable for decades.
by Manohla Dargis
…Much has been written on the relief efforts and failures in Haiti since the earthquake, so it’s a testament to Mr. Peck that he condenses a messy, complex story into a clear, graspable one. Even before the earthquake, Haiti had earned the dubious reputation as a Republic of NGO’s (for nongovernmental organizations) because of the sheer number of such groups — estimates range as high as 10,000 — working there. The need for aid after the quake seemed obvious given the devastation, yet as Mr. Peck starkly illustrates, the gulf between what was needed and what was initially provided was at times vast. That was the case with debris disposal: The capital of Port-au-Prince, he shows, had about 25 times the amount of debris that was at the World Trade Center after 9/11…
I recently returned from the Detroit area where my son was meeting up with a really great prospective Haiti volunteer for Unleash Kids! Nathan Riddle was also there, a courageous individual I’d met previously, providing the lifeline of spare parts to the global OLPC community. It is always interesting to meet the various people who are drawn to volunteer work and this was no exception!
New volunteers will follow in the steps of January’s large group, who worked small miracles nurturing “atelye” computer clubs in about seven different Haitian schools and orphanages. Curt Thompson and his wife Chiharu were among these unstoppable volunteers. Watch this interview with Curt and discover his thoughts on what brought him on this journey:
Chiharu (also a professional photographer) took many photos and videos during their stay in Haiti, and the Haitian kids certainly do not disappoint:
Can Haitians drive us to answer what kind of “atelye” (Haitian Creole word for “workshop”) belongs in each of our own neighborhoods?
Photographer Daniel Morel witnessed the worst after Haiti’s earthquake. But a judge has given him — and his devastated subjects — new hope.
Daniel Morel shoots a photo of Maltide Derine as a crowd of her neighbours presses in to watch a slide show of his photos from the evening of Jan. 12, 2010, when a 7.0 Richter earthquake shattered Port-au-Prince. Morel took some of the first — and most haunting — photos after the earthquake, but they were stolen online, sparking a lawsuit.
If, amid so much misfortune, one can find luck, then Morel is triply blessed. First came the photographic opportunity of a lifetime, followed by the unlikely Internet connection from his hotel to the world. Having his photos stolen was, strangely, Morel’s third big break.
Read more: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/02/24/haitis_rubblerouser_the_4year_fight_for_earthquake_justice.html
A man holds whole vanilla beans at a grocery market in San Francisco, California February 7, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith
The Vanilla Project, which provides income for some 650 farmers in rural Haiti, on February 1 earned its creators the Citizen Diplomat Award from Global Ties U.S., a non-profit partner of the U.S. State Department.
“Haiti once exported some of the finest vanilla products to Paris. They can do it again,” said Anne Reynolds, 57, a former professor at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama.
Both Reynolds and Wilmore share a belief that the best way to help those less fortunate is through collaboration, and that giving creates dependency.
While Wilmore disapproves of handouts, he believes he owes the people of Haiti a debt of gratitude, because their bloody, decade-long revolution in the late 18th century began the end of slavery in the western world.
“It is race, class and history wrapped into this. Here we are, young black men, working with white women from Alabama, buying chocolate from poor Haitians. We are shining the light on social injustice through ice cream,” Wilmore said in his award acceptance speech.
He added: “Ice cream tastes better than poverty.”
(Additional reporting by Amelie Baron in Port-au-Prince; Writing and editing by David Adams; Editing by Dan Grebler)
(Concerns about malfeasance throughout 5-page article)
Dance * Film * Literature & Spoken Word * Music * Visual Arts
It’s wonderful to hear updates on the successes of new students following volunteer visits of Unleash Kids! to schools and orphanages in Haiti.
Here is the most recent report from the mentors teaching laptop use at Frère Silar’s orphanage and school.
For the past few weeks, our mentors Jeanide and Junior have been introducing a new group of 18 kids to the laptops. So far, the kids have learned to clean the laptops and use them to take photos. They’ve also studied Haiti’s departments and capitals and the use of the fun geography game I Know America.
Some examples of the creative work this group is already producing:
A princess is crowned
Looking forward to the next progress report!
Daniel Dorsinvil, membre fondateur du Groupe alternatif de justice (GAJ) et coordonnateur général de la Plate-forme des organisations haïtiennes des droits humains (POHDH), et son épouse Girldy Larèche ont été abattus par balle samedi 8 février 2014 vers 13h30 dans un quartier résidentiel de la capitale haïtienne Port-au-Prince. Le double meurtre a vraisemblablement été commis par un seul individu armé, qui n’aurait pas été encore identifié. M. Dorsinvil a été atteint d’une balle en plein cœur et son épouse a été criblée de cinq balles.
L’Observatoire salue les déclarations du Président de la République et de la Ministre des Droits humains et de la lutte contre l’extrême pauvreté, qui ont rapidement condamné ce double meurtre, mais s’interroge sur les propos du secrétaire d’Etat à la Sécurité publique, M. Réginald Delva, qui a évoqué un cas de braquage, banalisant ainsi le double assassinat avant même que la police ait pu mener à bien son enquête.
From the New York Times
by Dean Nelson
“I discovered the falls while on a reporting trip to chronicle volunteer efforts among Haitians who are organizing their own community service groups. It brought me to this remote pocket of a country whose beauty has been devastated over the years by disasters — natural, economic and political. The earthquake that struck four years ago was a combination of the three, causing billions in damage and thousands of deaths, swiftly followed by a cholera outbreak that has killed thousands more, and a presidential election that led to violent protests. The idea that nature could be used to Haiti’s advantage for once has taken root again among nonprofits and officials who are seeking to position it as an ecotourism destination.”
The photos of Haiti are spectacular….
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti is launching a program to register its migrants who live without documentation abroad, including in the Dominican Republic, where thousands of people of Haitian origin are in danger of being left stateless by a court ruling.
Government workers will travel to remote corners of the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos, which also has a large Haitian population, to register Haitian citizens residing there without legal papers, Baptiste Saint-Cyr, director of the country’s National Identification Office, told private Radio Metropole on Tuesday.
Kenya is courageous to throw itself into the 21st century so rapidly in 2014. Time will tell how US$ 286 Million (24,687,360,000 Kenya Shilling) in laptops/printers/projectors will begin to spur electrification of Kenya’s schools (9000 of 20,000 need electricity here), Wifi/server connectivity, content curation and advancement of its teachers! Last but not least: in one of Africa’s most technological nations, how will educational reform involve parents’ devices, community libraries, universities and lifelong learning?
‘The [India] company is expected to provide 1,203,539 laptops, 20,637 printers and 20,637 projectors for learning in public primary schools. An additional 20,637 laptops will be for the teachers… “By the end of first quarter this year, all the pupils will have the laptops” …in October 2013, the Ministry of Education trained 150 master trainers at Kenya Education Management Institute. “The master trainers will in turn train 3,000 trainers of trainers, who by the time the laptops are delivered to the schools, we will have trained over 60,000 teachers,” said [Principal Secretary for Education Dr Belio Kipsang]. Three teachers would then be distributed to each of the 20,000 public primary schools in the country. Dr Kipsang said that the Rural Electrification Authority had connected 11,000 out of the total 20,000 eligible primary school with power. Another 4,000 schools will be connected by end of June, 2014 [but negotiations continue with the Ministry of Energy and the Treasury to see if 40% (8000?) of these schools will really get solar power…]’
The children of Haiti are so loveable. Whether in schools, on the streets or in orphanages, there is the desire to make their lives easier and healthier, to help them grow into proud Haitians.
Several volunteers have offered to share their recent photos of some of the fortunate children who have sponsors to help them reach these goals. I’m thrilled to share these pictures with you.
Orphanages in Haiti need a bit of explaining to those who are not familiar with them. Often the children do have family, and there is value in keeping families together if possible. For various reasons the families are unable to raise the children, but do keep in contact. Sponsors may assist by providing for school fees and uniforms (a necessity in Haiti), and for some food and access to medical clinics. Some children may not stay in the orphanage, but rather on the street or with their families but may still have sponsors. Once in their early twenties, these young people, better prepared for life, age out of the system.
Here are some cuties, many with their sponsors.
Puzzles and Lego make wonderful gifts. They help expand manual dexterity, mental visualization, searching methods, problem solving, concentration, team effort…and then there’s the pride at the end! Not just that, but they last for a good long time, especially if the pieces are carefully kept in individual zip lock bags! Thank-you Catherine Mitchell Rodell for your gift!
In the dorm
Enjoying Computer Club
Nailpolish often breaks the language barrier!
Twins, sponsored by twins!
Working on puzzles
Cell phones, another universal language
All dressed up!
Outside the medical center, a photo request
Nurse at work
Guarding the clinic
A creative boy outside his father’s shop
A young woman with her proud and happy sponsor
My thanks to Levi Wade, Cynthia Howe Wade, Kristi Rase Cordle, Sue Bell, Cari Guerin Merrick, Melinda Cleghorn Alison, Kara Smith, Heather Long Smith, Charlayne Boyd, Teresa Kerr Lewis and Lisa Hendrick for their efforts, photographs or for just being great subjects in these pictures.
Christmas time saw a great deal of volunteer work in various schools around Haiti. I was fortunate to have access to some fun photos from two very different locations.
At Project Rive, in Ansapit, a new solar panel system has been installed to recharge the XO laptops. This means that more children can participate in classes.
Meet the students!
Listen to this!
Solar panels and drying laundry compete for sun
At Saint Andre’s School in Hinche, students were learning to use their XO laptops as cameras. That means lots of walking about and posing. They love it.
Getting the teachers involved too
Definitely a fun beginning!
Renée Edme shares more news with us this week!
Adam Holt and a small team from Unleash Kids! paid us a visit this week.
We have started up two more laptop classes for our primary students in Thozin. Cledson Jean and Davidson Edmond are leading these classes, thanks to some training from Sora Edwards-Thro. Adam Holt, who first launched the program for us, was here this week with a small team. I’d love to tell you exactly what they did, but… well… I’m not such a tech wiz. It had something to do with updating the XOs and doing something to the server. Adam spent some time with the kids and our new trainers, as well.
Tiling has started in the new school building! I am amazed by the difference since my visit in September. WOW!
Thanks to donations from our friends at Mission USA and Firebrand Technologies, we were able to begin tiling some of the floors at the school. The kitchen, bathrooms, downstairs hallway and two classrooms are covered. The floors are looking incredible! What a difference some tile makes! We have funding for two classrooms, but still need to raise funds for 6 more (along with the adjacent gallery areas) and the administrative offices. Would your office or church group like to help us finish the floors? Please consider holding a fundraiser to tile a classroom ($800) or the administrative suite ($1600). We are getting close to the end of this first phase of construction. Please help us to finish strong. Thank you! (http://www.mohintl.org/contact-us)
Posted by Editor on Sunday, February 2, 2014
By Roy Lie.
On 12 December 2013, Dany Laferrière, a sharp-witted novelist, has become the first Quebecer and the first Haitian to be elected as an immortal of the prestigious Académie française. He was elected in the first round of balloting and will assume the second chair of the Académie.
The Académie française was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution, the Académie was restored in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte.
The goals of the Académie française are to maintain the purity of the French language, publish an official dictionary of the language and promote eloquence in the arts and sciences. The Académie consists of forty members. All are elected for life.
Laferrière intends to take Haitian Creole (vocabulary) as well as some of the Quebec vernacular to the Académie française.
Dany Laferrière is proud of his roots and that is what makes his election so special.
In 2010, the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) awarded Dany Laferrière a doctorate for his literary commitment and the remarkable influence of his work in French literature, reflecting cultural diversity and the Quebec of the past 30 years.
When asked what the secret of his success is, Laferrière said, ‘I have no secret. It’s the job and the arrogance to believe that nothing is impossible’.
The group rose early, left Hinche, and then headed to the orphanage run by Frere Silar. http://silars.wordpress.com/
Poor man hadn’t realized they were coming because of mixed signals. The goal was to scout out new locations where WiFi signals might reach on his new property, which includes a church area as well as classrooms for the older children upstairs – and the younger kids downstairs. The Orphanage still remains close by at the older site.
Looking for better WiFi sites
Discussing goals and dreams with Silar. The dream is to string ethernet cable from the old property (where the orphanage will remain) to the new property 10+ meters to the West, so that Wifi, Internet-in-a-Box (if not actual Internet too) can be used.
This would require permission of the landowner in between of course, which Silar’s does not think will be much of a problem.
This is a very important problem to resolve as the laptops are now hand-carried from the orphanage (charging, security) to the school for actual lessons, where no Wifi signal is presently possible.
More work was done with the Internet-in-a-Box setup. The children have been using the Internet a lot in the evening hours. The team worked on upgrading all of the computers as well.
Ruben, Junior and Jeanide (behind Junior) at work
Adam, Sora and Ruben. Pleased to see Ruben joining the team!
It’s all about the children..and they are never far! I think that’s my friend “Moses” on the left.
What good friends! 🙂
Following the adventure at the Orphanage, several team members had flights to catch to return to the States.
The rest of the team returned to Cazeau Christian Elementary School (http://hopeforhaitischildren.org/) to work on a problem they were having, and then on to Leogane to the Greta Home And Academy.( http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/greta-home/) And finally, a few days were spent at Mission of Hope in Grand Goave. (http://www.mohintl.org/school) “Adam came to MOHI to do the original training and has been on top of everything ever since – just from afar. It’s nice to have him back for a few days!”
Photos by Chi!
The goal today was to get the school server going and go through the testing — a pretty daunting task for just one day.
So naturally while Tim and George worked tirelessly on that, a few of us ran off on moto-taxis to a waterfall a half-hour or so outside of town where we did some hiking, climbing, and swimming.
Despite Sora’s best efforts to do otherwise, she survived, and so we headed back to St Andre’s to get the server going and go over the “Haiti (XO) Course Guide” with the teachers.
Well after dark, we finally got around to eating and, believe it or not, relaxing a bit (as George and Tim finished up testing and adjusting the server…)
It is with great delight that I am able to share photos from this past weekend of the children from Cazeau. It is so wonderful and satisfying to see them enjoying their new computers and practicing their skills after the Unleash Kids! volunteers have left!
“This program is an opportunity to establish a participatory process that includes non-governmental organizations, representatives of civil society and local authorities,” declared Damien Berrendorf, the Director of Oxfam Haiti “Especially, that the training will enable local officials and communities to take over the management of their communes and ensure that their communal development plan meets the needs of citizens and basic services and contribute to the increase in access to basic infrastructure.”
Read more: http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-10390-haiti-politic-launch-of-the-project-of-intercommunality-in-the-area-of-lake-azuei.html
Early this morning we (Unleash Kids!) left Port-au-Prince for a 2 or 3 hour ride to St. Andre’s School in Hinche. Once here, we had some lunch and got to work checking out XO laptops and determining what kind of Wifi we can set up. Junior and Jeanide taught an XO class and we went over Sora’s recently developed class guide with one of the St.Andre’s teachers. After dinner, we stayed up flashing and fixing the laptops. It turns out around 200 students here are vigorously using them, and we’re very happy to see that!
XO class at St. Andre’s School in Hinche
Some other photos from today’s journey
College Saint Andre
Higher, Stronger, Further
The younger students in their green checked uniforms
The more advanced students in uniform
Sora and the kids
This is the report from Unleash Kids! on their sixth day of volunteer work with schools in Haiti. This day’s activities take place at the Ferrier School located in the mountains above Port-au-Prince.
Adam throws a frisbee
Checking out their skills
The boy in the red shirt is working on a maze. Perhaps he is a visitor? He is not in uniform. On the blackboard is written “Dieu est grand” – God is great.
One on one guidance
George is at work with the other tech guys. You can see the roll-out solar panel.
Adam gives his input
Typical style of painting on school walls
Sora and Junior race up the hills… Sora tries to run each day because she is on a team back at school in the USA.
There goes Curt with his new friend Metch!
Digging up the mountains…
A small market
The Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince must be visited at least once!
The end of another rewarding day!
Up the mountainside today to a school that somehow remains distinctly rural despite being just a few miles from Port-au-Prince. We helped test a charge controller brought in from the U.S. and added a new battery to the solar system.
Ferrier School is on the mountainside overlooking Port-au-Prince from the West
Their solar system uses a portable “rollout” solar panel. The battery and panel both hook into the charge controller, and there is a separate output. There were two “surprises” we discovered. One is that the charge controller must be set, in this case, with Timer1 at “17″ for the simplest on/off operation with the button on the front. The second is that that front button is very easy to push, and while cycling through the settings and views, it turns the charging output on and off each time it’s pressed. They didn’t seem to need much help getting the whole system put in place or looking nice, so we were mostly able to simply get the charge controller working, show them how to set it, and let them figure out the rest. All in all this “solar side trip” was pretty successful, I think.
Our Friends at Ferrier are pretty handy, and helped us out a lot.
Installing this solar system will allow the laptops to be stored onsite, reducing both the monetary cost and tediousness of the school manager charging the laptops and home and driving them up the mountain. Sora taught a quick XO lesson to some of the kids and afterward handed off our new “Haiti XO Curriculum” to the teachers. We will stay in touch with our friends at Ferrier and help out however we can. In the meantime, we wish them the best!
Sora goes over music, drawing, and games that are easy to pick up on and make a lot of entertaining noise
When we had a moment to rest, a few of us decided to run up the mountain with a couple local kids. One of them, “Metch,” talked to James who had taught English at Ferrier School for one month, and who brought the XO laptops and set up the solar system this past summer. Then we hiked into the woods for some beautiful views of Port-au-Prince and raced up and down the mountainside. He’s pretty fast!
Metch and I between races
By Daniel Dieujuste
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) — Haitian health authorities have reported a significant decrease in cases of cholera in Haiti in early 2014, compared to the number of cases reported during the same period last year, as they promised to vaccinate this year some 500,000 people in at risk areas, with the aim of eradicating the scourge in the Caribbean country.
By Joe Colas
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) — Haiti’s prime minister called on Parliament on Monday to complete the voting process of a tough anti-corruption legislation that provides more extended prison time for wrongdoers and other sanctions in a Caribbean country where corruption has long been rampant.
|Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe|
Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said the country will make significant improvements in the fight against corruption if lawmakers, at the lower chamber, pass the bill which has already been approved by the senate.
n recent months, US State Department officials — including special coordinator for Haiti, Thomas C. Adams — said the current administration had done more efforts than any of its predecessors to fight corruption in Haiti.
by Curt Thompson
We were really happy to see the progress the kids had made in just a few days, thanks in no small part to the amazing teachers who will continue this class two days a week for about three months. Today’s lesson was to use translate.google.com to translate a word from Kreyol to English, then look up that image on Wikipedia (served locally from Internet-in-a-Box, no less). Once the kids had their pictures, they used an activity called “Paint” to draw over the image. Here’s an example of one of the kids’ brilliant work:
We’re very excited to be working with Cazeau Christian Elementary School and Hope for Haiti’s Children going forward. And I’d like to make a special thanks to Ken Bever for his dedication to the school, the orphanage, and all of the support he provided us.
Here the teachers gather with Ken to chat with Unleash Kids! about the future plans for the program.
Tomorrow we head to Ferrier School in the mountains above Port-au-Prince to tackle some issues with their solar system. With a brand new charge controller and a good charge controller, we’re hoping they’ll be able to keep their laptops onsite instead of driving them back and forth an hour each way from Port-au-Prince.
Stay tuned for more coming tomorrow, internet willing!
More fun photos to share:
George has been at work here I suspect!
This is part of a report sent to me from Haiti where Unleash Kids! is introducing a Computer Club at Cazeau Christian Secondary School, close to the airport in Port-au-Prince.
by Sora Edwards-Thro and Marie Holt
For the second day of classes, the kids worked on Fototoon. Examples of the kids’ work are attached below.. I’ll include stories about each:
The teacher holding the laptop is saying: “Since it can’t fall, I’m doing this.” I think the kids are referring to the fact that the XO laptops are extremely durable, that it is OK to hold them in a different/wacky position in order to get the perfect photo because it’s not the end of the world if it takes a tumble! I’m glad the kids mastered this concept so quickly – it’s part of why I do photos on the first day; to get them messing around with the machines.
The photos of the tree and the clouds saying “Hello” and “Hello, we are clouds” may not seem like much, but one of the teachers actually came up to me and said, ” Clouds can’t talk!” which started a conversation about what creativity means and why it’s good to let the kids use their imaginations.
I sympathize with the teachers to some degree. In their training they have learned everything by rote. Learning to allow the kids a certain amount of freedom is a bit frightening. This is a situation where students are asked to walk outdoors taking pictures, interviewing people in the neighborhood…and this certainly takes a great deal of adjusting to. As teachers everywhere, there’s a reluctance at first to giving up total control, to learning a new kind of discipline, to allowing kids to wander about and learn from others, maybe even a fear of how the principal will respond!
Now I must share my favorite photo! This is such a great picture of kids who are curious and enjoying sharing ideas. They are really involved in their projects.
This boy is working solo… and is so absorbed!
These girls are looking for the perfect photo for their project.
Tomorrow we’ll be doing another live hangout, this time live from the deployment at Cazeau Christian Elementary School. The hangout will start at 3PM New York Time. If it’s not too disruptive, we’re hoping to take you inside the classroom and possibly do an interview or two with the kids who are learning with the XO’s. Join us if you can at http://www.youtube.com/unleashkids
Curt Thompson, SoraEdwards-Thro and Marie Holt
More lessons for the kids at Cazeau Christian Elementary School today. They went outside and took photos again, but this time made a ‘storyboard’ style cartoon with speech bubbles.
After that we had a great meet & greet with some teachers from Ferrier school, where we hope to be helping with solar the day after tomorrow. This is their school coordinator.
We also met with a bush-pilot, electrical engineer, mechanic, and linux Guru called Bernard. Exciting things ahead it seems!
Some more photos from the team below:
Expert at work: Meet George! He`s setting up the school server. On Day 3, the technical team spent the morning working out a preliminary plan for where to put access points, computers, and much more.
Here you see the main area of the orphanage. The technical team was hard at work putting up wires to connect all the different places (house, orphanage library room, church). Server is running properly now after all their hard work.
Irresistible kids at the school.
The teachers (who had been trained by Sora last week) had their first classes with the kids starting on Monday. They taught the parts of the computer and then took photos using the camera and the Record activity. Each teacher was assigned to a team of about 4 kids or so. At the end of class, each team presented its two best photos and everyone voted on their favorites. The winning team was called Super Nova.
by Curt Thompson
Another great day with the kids at Cazeau Christian Elementary School. The last of our group arrived today bringing with him a server that will hopefully be installed at the school tomorrow. We’ve stayed up way too late making sure that it’s working properly, so please forgive this very short post.
Update: For yesterday’s lesson, the kids took photos with their laptops, brought them in and named them, and we held a little contest between the four groups to pick out the best photo. They really seemed to enjoy it, and the teachers did a great job as well.
After my September visit with Unleash Kids! in Grand Goave, Haiti, I can’t help but want to keep up with the progress they are making there. Each week I check in via their website to see the photos and read the stories on the most recent happenings. (http://www.mohintl.org/)
This week’s updates are so amazing. This week saw the arrival of Mission USA (from the Chapel, Akron, OH). First I read their story about the school bus they lovingly converted into a medical clinic. The bus has been fitted with cabinets, counters, a sink – even an exam table and wall partitions for privacy. They held a big food packaging event and packed it all into the bus, along with all the other purchases and donations. This present group of volunteers has done phenomenal work. They purchased many useful and needed items such as a generator, two commercial grade ovens for the main school, a washing machine and a flat grill for the missionary compound.
Renée, who with her husband and two children has spent 14 years serving at the Mission, describes even more:
Once the bus was unpacked, the visiting team started working on several other projects, such as plumbing, pouring a slab for the new generator, medical clinics in St Etienne, disability ministry, Electronic Medical Record data entry, village ministry, cooking and feeding the poor, and loving on lots of little ones. They purchased tiles and supervised laying down a new kitchen floor that will be easy to keep clean.
Now here is one thing I was especially happy to hear. Three organizations pooled their resources and collectively purchased a motorcycle with trailer attachment. Mission USA and Help for Haiti went in thirds with Mission of Hope to get this ever so useful three wheeler. It is wonderful to see how these teams work with and for each other!
On their website I enjoy seeing familiar faces, like little Faith getting so big now, Tammy and Kevin, Pastor Lex … and yes, Dieunison. You may recall me writing about his birthday back in May. (https://haitidreams.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/dieunisons-birthday/). Seeing his progress delights me! I’m part of his fan club! One day I expect him to work with, or maybe even start “One Bike per Child”.
Monday was the introductory day of a computer club at Cazeau Christian Elementary School. Adam Holt introduced the team from Unleash Kids! as well as two mentors, Jeanide Joseph and Junior Monrose.
Both students and teachers took part in the classes. In these classes, the students usually begin with a contest to see who can figure out how to open the laptops first! Often it is a student and not a teacher who is quickest. At this school we see that the children make use of “mice”. Not so at many schools where they use the touchpads on the laptops.
The students were divided into four groups, each with at least one teacher. Here you see Junior to the right, in a yellow striped shirt. He has taken part in laptop teaching in many schools over the past few years.
Here you see Mario Calixte assisting with explanations. That is Sora Edwars-Thro at the chalk board.
A whole new mystery world here for both student and teacher!
This is Jeanide (standing on the right) assisting one of the teams.
One of the favorite activities is taking photographs of each other!
Curt Thompson and Adam Holt assisting another team with their photographs.
At work on a project already!
Each one demonstrates her success to the others.
They are concentrating hard to understand Adam’s French!
Each team selected a name which is posted on the board. It looks like team SUPER NOVA received the most points in a competition.
And then it was time for recess…. and also time to recharge the laptops for later use.
This is not work. This is the fun part!
Sending thanks to everyone who contributed time, money and heart to this cause.
Sharing with you this recent joyful event.
Published on Jan 19, 2014
Once again, smiles and joy are delivered thanks to our wonderful team of volunteers, stateside and on-the-ground in Haiti. Hope for Haiti’s Children’s Joy Box project volunteers packed over 1,700+ gift-filled, colorfully wrapped boxes — delivering around 1,200 of them directly to our sponsored children in Haiti. These wonderful kids were all smiles and excitement as they received their individual boxes, quick to share and so grateful — warming the hearts of our team members. Share the smiles with this touching video of the December delivery. To find out more, please visit our website at http://www.hopeforhaitischildren.org/…
The government is promoting the cultivation of a tree rich in vitamins, minerals and calcium to tackle food insecurity
…The poorest country in the western hemisphere, 75% of Haiti’s population lives on less than $2 a day, half on less than $1 a day, according to the UN World Food Programme. It imports 80% of its rice and more than half of all its food, despite 60% of Haitians working in agriculture. An estimated 7 million of the 10 million population are food insecure and USAid estimates that up to 30% of children are chronically malnourished.
USAid continues to roll out its $88m five-year Feed the Future North project that looks to expand farmers’ yields of primarily five key crops – corn, beans, rice, plantains and cocoa. Meanwhile, Haiti has rediscovered moringa oleifera, native to India but commonly found in sub-Saharan Africa, as the miracle crop under its very nose, after its forgotten introduction to the country a century ago.
It is “Blue Monday” here in Canada. (http://news.ca.msn.com/canada/blue-monday-saddest-day-of-year-affects-10percent-of-canadians) Little sunshine, lots of snow. So how wonderful to get photos sent to me from the Unleash Kids! team in sunny Haiti. I’m thrilled to see the children at Cazeau Christian Elementary School, familiar faces, and projects moving ahead. Later on I expect to actually hear interviews and am looking forward to that a great deal!
A report for the day:
Denny Baumann holds the $150 Internet-in-a-Box device.
On our walk we photographed various street scenes and picked up some lunch.
Papita vendorNice dress!Tap tap (taxi)Sugar cane for saleHere’s our lunch!Mario met up to talk about installing Internet-in-a-Box and I talked with Ruben about the new things we have added to the Haiti operating system.We also showed Ruben books for his school, brought from Canada and from EducaVision Inc (https://www.facebook.com/Educa.Vision.Publisher). Good job picking them out.I think it will be another late night.
UNITED NATIONS (CMC):The United Nations has announced the allocation of US$6 million for emergency aid operations for the “neglected crisis” in Haiti.
“People living through some of the most critical humanitarian crises do not always receive the attention that they need,” said UN humanitarian chief and emergency relief coordinator, Guyanese-born Valerie Amos.
This first day of work began at the Cazeau Christian Elementary School & Orphanage, located near the Port-au-Prince Airport. A group from Unleash Kids!, comprised of about five people, walked from the guest house to the site for their first walk-about. Here you see some street scenes as they approach the school where they will be working.
And then the tour began, greeting the staff, visiting the classrooms and of course the kids. The techies also looked at options for Internet-in-a-Box and School Server integration.The teaching areas are separated by temporary walls.A large useful area, likely for church services mainly.The outdoor walled courtyard, a play area. A place to store things: extra mattresses and materialsSora has taught herself Creole and so gets to socialize more intimately with the children. Time to check out the battery backup.Climbing onto the roof for a better view!And always more visiting with the children.Meal time! Time for the girls to shampoo and fix their hair
Later, the sun sets over the capitol. The team met up with their friends Junior and Benaja and headed to a restaurant at the top-of-the-hill overlooking Port-au-Prince, where they had the most delicious cappuccinos ever. Back at “home base,” they were busy far into the night…trying to get the XO laptops up and ready for the kids to use next week.And even later, the last one awake prepares for Day 2.*****
Not all gifts to Haiti come in a box or are food and cash donations. In this case, the gift was one of time and thoughtfulness. When visiting Pasteur Silar’s orphanage and school yesterday, our friend Sora (of Unleash Kids!) was able to create a website for him! What a wonderful start she has made.
This is one posting:
The school is home to 250 students in grades 1 all the way up to 12. Unlike many schools in Haiti, Silar’s charges no fees to attend. The school is Silar’s way of helping out those kids he doesn’t have space for in the orphanage – although they cannot stay with him, they can at least receive a good education.
I invite you to check out the site and view the various sections: Home, About Us, Our Projects, and Support Us. http://silars.wordpress.com/
In my quest to provide a dedicated space to the study of Haitian Creole, I encounter many critics who so easily dismiss the validity of the language.
“Why would someone want to learn Haitian Creole?” they ask. “Can you even teach Haitian Creole?” they wonder. “What’s the point of learning anyway…no one else in the world speaks Haitian Creole,” they argue.
I find myself often on the defensive and standing up for a language that many fail to see plays the largest role in shaping and creating our identity not just as Haitians, but also as hyphenated, bicultural Haitians. Language is one of the main gateways to access culture, and Haitian Creole acts as the bridge for those who are looking to connect or re-connect with Haiti. To circumvent that bridge is to dismiss the significance of Haitian Creole (my mind and lips want to spit the words out!).
Jola was born in Haiti and lived in an orphanage in the town of Mariani until he was adopted at the age of 3 by an American family and raised in Alaska. Moving from the warm climate of Haiti to the frigid weather of Alaska was a major culture shock for Jola, to say the least. It took him years to learn how to speak English, and in fact, spoke only Kreyòl until about age 9 or 10.
Read about Jola and more: http://www.haitiantimes.com/haitian-speaking-creole/
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti — A thorough and impartial investigation must be immediately initiated into the causes of a January 11 fire that tore through the displacement camp known as “Comité du peuple progressiste” in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, Amnesty International said.
“The Haitian authorities have the obligation to investigate this terrible incident and to bring those responsible to justice, should the suspicion of arson be confirmed. Such a serious act cannot be allowed to go unpunished,” said Chiara Liguori, Amnesty International’s researcher for the Caribbean.
by Trevor Williams
On Jan. 12, Haiti marked four years since the earthquake that devastated the country. This week and next, Global Atlanta is taking a look at how Atlanta-based organizations are continuing their often-challenging work in the country.
At first the idea was to help families feed themselves with meat and milk, but over time the goats were seen as a means of income security. Call it an exercise in rural entrepreneurship, a mammalian riff on the “teach a man to fish” axiom.
Among the places that Unleash Kids! will be visiting this month is one of the schools operated by Hope for Haiti’s Children. The plan is to establish a computer club using the now famous green and white laptops. We are terribly excited!
Take a look here! http://hopeforhaitischildren.org/see-our-work/rebuilding-hope-2020
Came across this video today… about preparations for a trip to Haiti:
By Curt Thompson
We found a few things we thought the kids might like
Tomorrow night, Chiharu (blog here (Japanese)) and I will head for Haiti to meet up with a few other Unleashers carrying a couple cameras, a few gifts, and the hope that we’ll be able to finish all of our projects in the short time we’re there. On the agenda for our trip, other than meeting and greeting of various schools’ teachers and volunteers, includes fixing the solar charge controller at James Murdza’s Ferrier School, setting up XSCE School Server with Internet-in-a-Box for a school in Cazeu (with Hope for Haiti’s Children) and assisting in the One Laptop per Child XO deployment at Saint Andre’s Episcopal School in Hinche.
The charge controller and accessories we’ll be installing at Ferrier
We’re extremely excited to meet everybody, especially Junior, who has been coordinating with Unleash Kids for quite a while now. If at all possible, I plan to be posting daily updates here, so stay tuned for more information. Quite sadly, it looks like we won’t make it to “Sora’s School,” Project Rive, in Ansapit this time. If you have a moment, it’s worth checking out the Project Rive blog here.
By the way, it’s been a while since we’ve done a Google Hangout, wouldn’t you say?
Haiti, one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere, is a place that understands the power of story. In a country marked by food shortages, irregular or nonexistent electricity, almost no medical care, and no money for schools or school supplies, Haitian youths display a tremendous amount of resilience.
The University of Illinois recently completed a study examining the cultural identity and well-being of adolescents in the Caribbean. In spite of the fact that the majority of Haitian youths deal with the daily effects of poverty, they have a very impressive lesson to teach us.
Moso pa moso, zwazo fe nich li.
Piece by piece, the bird makes its nest.
I have a few traditional proverbs I whip out whenever I want to sound authentically Haitian, and this is one I’ve been using a lot lately when I talk about the new curriculum I’ve been developing to be used with our XO programs here.
The goal is to lay out how the kids will progress with the computers over three months, assuming class meets twice a week for two hours. Each week, there’s a project to complete to apply what they’ve learned.
The first nine weeks are written, posted, and ready for your input here.
Thanks for your help to make this the best it can be, for kids and schools throughout Haiti and hopefully even beyond.
The twelve weeks are divided into four sections that each last three weeks: Base, Explore, Extend, and Create. Classes move from more structure to less as the kids become more comfortable with the computers. Midway through the course, the kids choose their specialty: either Art, Music, or Science. Through the rest of the course they work in small groups on projects related to that specialty. The last three weeks are dedicated to completing a final project.
More specifics on the program:
In the Base weeks, the kids are introduced to the computers. They master the essentials by working with Activities like Record, Paint, and Chat.
In the Explore weeks, the kids get to try out tools the computers offer for drawing, music, and research. Each week is dedicated to exploring one of the three.
In the Extend weeks, the kids work on material specific to their specialty (Art, Music, or Research) in small groups while also collaborating with the rest of the class on projects such as making a newspaper. The final week invites guest teachers such as electricians or professional musicians to share their expertise with the kids.
In the Create weeks, the kids prepare a final project to demonstrate all that they have learned over the course.
Written by Rick Cohen Created on Thursday, 16 January 2014
January 15, 2015; Global Post
In the wake of major government leaders gathering with the UN General Secretary at an international conference in Kuwait pledging to raise $6.5 billion to respond to the Syrian humanitarian crisis, the relevant question is whether the money really gets delivered after all the big announcements. For example, this year’s request for Syria is the largest ever, but last year, only 70 percent of the money pledged by donor nations to Syrian relief actually showed up. Compared to other years and other UN requests, 70 percent is even rather high.
For many readers, a comparable situation closer to home might be whether the donations promised to Haiti in response to the devastating earthquake that hit that impoverished island on January 12, 2010 were realized—and whether they accomplished what they were supposed to. The Global Post asks, “After Haiti’s devastating earthquake, where did the aid money go?”
“The elections will take place this year and my government will provide the means to support the work of the electoral council, ” said Lamothe.
“This will allow us to move forward on the path of democracy which this government believes in,” he advised.
Caribbean Media Corporation
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – The Dominican Republic says Haiti has lifted a ban on imports of Dominican poultry and eggs – an issue that set off tensions between the neighboring nations when it was imposed last year.
The Haitian Truth website http://haitian-truth.org has a posting about Haiti Dreams, http://haitidreams.org . Clarifications to some of the assumptions they made are in order. 1) The note says we are based in California but this is not so. 2) We have no advertisers.
After months of fund-raising, pestering some very patient people with lots of technical questions, and of course praying, I am proud to announce that Project Rive is finally receiving full power.
With the 135 watt solar panel we can collect more than enough to charge the computers twice each day, and the battery allows us to store power so clouds don’t disrupt classes. We can even add a light to our classroom so the learning doesn’t stop when the sun goes down, extremely important considering that both our students and teachers are in school through most of the afternoon.
These changes mean 40 students instead of 20 will be enrolled in our computer course. It also means we can give learners access in other ways. Students from the school next door can use resources like our copies of Wikipedia to do research for class projects. Kids who have already graduated after three months of computer classes can still use the laptops for projects and more advanced instruction. We’re also recruiting graduates to help the teachers with the new groups of students.
The teachers are really excited – they’ve been asking me for more power for a long time and now that they’ve got it they’re going to “change their strategy” to make sure all that extra electricity gets used to make things bigger and better for Ansapit.
Stay tuned for more about how we’re growing. Thanks so much for the support that helped us get here.
Now that winter break is over and computers are getting charged faster, it’s time to add a new group of students to the course. Here are some shots of what happens the first day you put a laptop into someone’s hands. On the first day, kids learn the basics of using the mouse, keyboard, and camera.
Looking forward to seeing this new group advance!
This brave girl was the first to get up from her seat to take pictures.
Getting lower = getting more creative closeups
Jameson explains to the class how to do something.
Often, students end up learning from fellow students as much as from teachers.
Everyone crowds in to peer at the first to finish so they can figure it out too.
Graduates become familiar with the new system so they can help teachers with it later on.
This event will take place on Thursday, January 16, 2014, 7:00-9:00pm, at the Dweck Center, Brooklyn Public Library (Main Branch), located at 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, New York.
Co-presented by HCX and MoCADA, join Akashic Books and the Brooklyn Public Library for a special reading and discussion with writer Edwidge Danticat on this new collection of contemporary works by some of Haiti’s leading literary voices—Haiti Noir 2: The Classics.
…”an integral piece to the understanding of how Haitian culture has evolved over the past fifty years”…
Read more about this collection and Edwidge Danticat here: http://repeatingislands.com/2014/01/13/haiti-exchange-presents-haiti-noir-2-the-classics-with-edwidge-danticat/
Il y a quatre ans….
by MARK SCHULLER
…Aside from the construction of stands around Champs-de-Mars, noticeably absent the National Palace, from which pastors proclaim the gospel over loudspeakers, there is little sign of tomorrow’s significance. Unlike the first anniversary – indeed, first six months, of the earthquake, there is little organized fanfare.
On the surface, things are calm. Port-au-Prince appears to be in security. Kidnapping stats are way down from the end of the year. The protests that engulfed the streets almost daily in November and early December, including thousands recently for an increase in Haiti’s minimum wage to 500 gourdes a day (about $11.35, or $1.42 per hour), have dissipated for the holiday season.
But like many people who have commented on the taste of Prestige, Haiti’s national beer that recently won its second world beer cup title, since it was purchased by Heineken, it is too sweet.
Read more here: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/13/too-sweet-too-bitter/
Mark Schuller is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and NGO Leadership and Development at Northern Illinois University and affiliate at the Faculté d’Ethnologie, l’Université d’Étatd’Haïti. Supported by the National Science Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and others, Schuller’s research on globalization, NGOs, gender, and disasters in Haiti has been published in two dozen book chapters and peer-reviewed articles as well as public media. He is the author of Killing with Kindness: Haiti, International Aid, and NGOs (2012) and co-editor of three volumes, including Tectonic Shifts: Haiti Since the Earthquake (2012). He is co-director / co-producer of documentary Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy (2009). Schuller is co-editor of Berghahn Books’ Catastrophes in Context: a Series in Engaged Social Science on Disasters, board chair of the Lambi Fund of Haiti, and active in several solidarity efforts.
I finally arrived at the place where it all began – Ansapit, the village where I set up my first project with the laptops. Here’s how I got there:
1. Wake up at 4:55 and apologize profusely to your host, who you thought was joking when he said you’d be leaving at 4 in the morning.
2. Squeeze into a van and alternate between sleeping and watching the sun come up until you arrive in the city.
3. Clamber up onto a truck while the guys below hoist up your suitcase, shouting “Help me!” because they’re having a lot of fun with the idea that a foreigner is actually going to ride this truck all the way across the country.
4. Wait at the gas station while they fill up the tank. 5. Watch the congestion of the city give way to yards and then whole sprawling stretches of land. 6. Wish you had something to cover your head like all the Haitians to keep it from getting dusty.
Look how white with dust the plants by the side of the road are.
Everyone stands up to yell at the passengers in the truck in front of us.
8. Find a more comfortable seat in the back of the truck where there’s a bench. The price is you have to explain to the guy next to you that love means something very different for you than it apparently does for him.
9. Don’t take any photos on the most dangerous parts of the road to show people what you mean when you talk about them being bumpy and steep. You’re too busy holding on.
10. Enjoy the sudden coolness of the pine forest.
11. Stare in credulity at the large numbers of people at the market after all those lonely mountain roads.
12. Ponder how the place you’re in looks like something from a map in a fantasy novel, what with the winding paths and the trees and the horses tied to them.
13. Buy some gingerbread and eat it to enhance the whole fairy-tale effect. It’s called boubou here.
14. Resist the temptation to buy some pistachios too, your favorite food next to mangoes. You refuse to buy things if kids are selling them because they should be in school. You doubt your not spending the equivalent of 12 cents on a bag of pistachios will make a difference but you tell yourself to stick to your principles.
Haitians have principles too – cleanliness, for example. This guy dons a fur coat before going under the machin to change the tire in order to keep his clothes underneath it spotless.
15. Get a weird look from a guy when you explain you’re going to the bathroom and you don’t want the taptap to leave without you. Didn’t you realize they’re changing a tire?
16. Give a guy some crackers when he outright asks you, a stranger, for them. It’s against your “principles” but sometimes it’s nice to just be nice.
17. Make room for a new group of people getting on with sacks of things to sell at another market. Somehow there’s always more space for everything – especially when it’s the last machin of the day.
18. Leave the forest and continue through the mountains.
19. Arrive in Tchiotte and ask around for where to find a machin for Ansapit. The moto guys inform you that there is no truck or bus today, but they’re happy to take you themselves for 500 goud (around $12.50). They would charge less, but they don’t have gas in their tanks right now. This might actually be true.
20. Keep looking. Ignore the fact that you look utterly ridiculous going down the street tugging your suitcase on wheels behind you. You’re used to looking ridiculous.
21. Find a moto guy who gives you a fairer price. (350 – still higher than 300, what you paid last time, but not too bad).
22. Ride another hour with him through the mountains, smiling when you see your first cactus.
23. Get off, pay the moto guy, and buy some juice from your favorite juice-lady. You’ve been craving this the whole time you’ve been in Haiti – now, you’re finally here.
*Augustinus van der Krogt, Ph.D., is a consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank’s Education Program in Haiti.
In 2013, I was hired to collaborate with the Haitian Ministry of Education on its Information and Communication Technology (ICT) strategy and implementation plan. Its purpose was to contribute to expanding access to primary education and improving its quality. Interestingly –very different from many other countries that I have advised – it resulted in a promising strategy that puts education first and builds on already ongoing experiences in the country.
To enhance access to education and improve its quality, Haiti chose to develop an ICT strategy and an implementation plan that is based on the following three pillars:
1) Paving the way towards active learning.
2) Developing relevant content.
3) ICT in the classroom as the finishing touch.
This blog is written by specialists from the Education Division of the Inter-American Development Bank. Its objective is to provide arguments and ideas that will spark debate about how to transform education in Latin America and the Caribbean. This blog is a call to action for the reader. An idea, a project, or a question can make a difference.
I will take this opportunity to reply briefly to the article here, based on my experiences in Haiti schools. I hope that many others will be encouraged to add their thoughts.
Key players in ICT education
van der Krogt’s article makes us ask the question: Who are the key players in ICT (Information and Communications Technology) in Haiti? These players include the following:
1. Haiti’s MoE (Ministry of Education) has the overall responsibility for defining the course of ICT education. However since only a small fraction of Haiti schools are government schools, the role of MoE is more limited than might be thought. In a way, Haiti’s main school book publisher, Henri Deschamps has more influence by setting de facto curricula by its books.
2. Various NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) such as Inter-American Development Bank, Haiti Partners, Unleash Kids, and Mother Tongue books set standards for experimentation and for technology dissemination for ICT education.
3. Christian churches from the USA provide effective teaching and long term continuity, with school infrastructure. By the examples they set, they are in fact trend setters in ICT education.
These and others are key players in ICT education. Ideally, working together, they will help guide ICT education in Haiti.
Education is a complex business, and ICT is but one part of the whole.