Following Sora….

Looking Back

Posted on January 5, 2014

I know, 2014 is already four days old, but anyway here’s a look back at 2013.

Around April, I received word that the director of the school I’d worked at the previous summer wouldn’t be able to host me again, and after shopping around for other places to volunteer with, I concluded that the thing to do was move forward with my dream of starting my own computer program.

Locating a location wasn’t easy I emailed over a dozen schools and received responses ranging from “we aren’t accepting volunteers” to “it would be too disruptive.” But then, finally, I got a positive response from Sadhana Forest to this message:

One program I would like to try to implement involves teaching students how to use computers/the Internet to teach themselves

As you can see, the vague vision was there but I really had no idea how to make it happen – no money, no computers, no electricity, and no technical expertise. But I got right to work anyway, beginning with posts on some computer forums about what laptops would be durable, energy-efficient, and appropriate for education…

Of course, One Laptop Per Child’s name came up, but I knew they don’t typically work on such a small scale. Writing a request to the volunteer community was a little less intimidating so I went ahead and did it, but I kept the message very short and didn’t even dare to ask for a donation – I was willing to spend money for something that would work:

This summer I will be working to set up a computer center in
Haiti, and your laptops are the best-suited for my projects. I am
willing to purchase them, even for a higher price than the $100
dollars advertised.

Of course, Adam Holt wrote me 2 minutes later, asking for more details, my Skype contact information, and then later my resume, and then about meeting in person in Washington, D.C. I had gotten a better answer than I could ever hope for, but now I had a whole new set of problems. My resume would show that I was 17 and still in high school, way too young to be attempting something like this. My mom’s car was broken so I had no way of getting to DC. I didn’t own a phone for him to call if / when I did get to DC. I was so worried that every step in the process would end up being the end of the story…

But instead, it was the beginning of a story that has brought me into contact with some brilliant people (I even got to take trips to New York and San Francisco to meet some of them) and brought me back to Haiti to help unleash kids in not just one school but seven (with many more to come). It’s a privilege to wake up every morning with the opportunity to be involved in something I’m truly passionate about. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been worth it.

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About fromourisland

Gardener, knitter, wife, mother of 2, grandmother, and lots more.
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