Sunday, September 25, 2011

Meeting Parents, Teachers, Mappers in Haiti

We are less than a week into our Haiti trip and already meeting all of the right people. We met the teachers and school administration three times just outside our tents. Click any photo for the full set.

Then today we met with many parents of our students. We demo'd typing, the camera, and sensors. I didn't take photos, because I rarely bring a camera to my first meeting with someone. There were plenty of others there, though, so the event is on film somewhere.


We spent the weekend at Grassroots United, an international group of people all working on health, mapping, health mapping, or building science.

Their Haitian mapping team (COSMHA) were about to travel around the block taking photos of businesses and tracking with their GPS. Once we got back to camp, we could match the times on the photos and the times on the GPS to map our trip. I had my camera, so we took several photos of local businesses, like this CyberNet-ery.

I shared a lot of ideas about mapping and databases and websites, but they seemed highly abstract, I guess. COSMHA seems focused on feeding raw material into OpenStreetMap, which seems rather short-sighted. I want to support their project by writing websites and innovative add-ons that showcase what they're doing and how it can be applied by our friends in the UN, USAID, CDC, and World Bank.

My problems continue to be communication and disconnect. So many meetings were relayed into English for my sake. Today I asked Junior (Haiti's OLPC intern) to teach me a couple of words. I now know how to explain my sensors project. By disconnect - if that's the right word, I don't want to be that guy - I mean the surreal, air-conditioned, pop-music restaurant not far from Grassroots United. As the other table of Americans and I devoured our curry chicken, salad, rice, and Oreos, watching a fountain, flowers, and an armed guard out the window, I couldn't make sense of it. This isn't the real Haiti, and it's not what we want Haiti to look like, either.

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