gardenbug(Canada zone 5)October 30, 2010

I'll post as much as I can about Haiti and my son's trip here for the next 2 weeks or so. I may not receive enough updates to do so. At least I'll separate my news and feelings from the main exchanges we share.

And so to begin, OLPC computers have been distributed to a very few schools in Haiti so far. It is a huge deal, and children and teachers wait impatiently for their arrival. Clearing customs is a huge hurdle.

Here is one lucky school waiting...

And one lucky boy receiving his computer!

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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Yesterday's interview about the cholera epidemic in Haiti.

Ask Dr. Hallberg: Cholera in Haiti
by Tom Crann, Minnesota Public Radio,
October 28, 2010

St. Paul, Minn. " Health officials in Haiti continue their efforts to curb the spread of cholera. An outbreak there has already taken the lives of more than 300 people, and cases have been confirmed in two new areas of the country.

Cholera outbreaks in Pakistan and Nigeria have also been reported in recent days.

MPR News medical analyst Dr. Jon Hallberg joined All Things Considered's Tom Crann on Thursday to answer questions about the disease.

Hallberg is a physician in family medicine at the University of Minnesota and medical director of the Mill City Clinic in Minneapolis.

[[header:Tom Crann: Give us the basics on cholera. What is it and how is it spread?

[[header:Dr. Jon Hallberg: Cholera is a bacteria. It's called Vibrio cholerae, and it's a very interesting bacteria in that it has a little flagella, little tail that helps it swim upstream and attach to the intestinal wall where it does its damage. And it's spread the way that most diarrheal illnesses are spread, and that is by consuming sewage-tainted water.

[[header:Crann: The water gets contaminated with the bacteria.

[[header:Hallberg: That's right.

[[header:Crann: And how infectious is it?

[[header:Hallberg: Well, it's interesting. They think that about seventy-five percent of the people who get exposed to this bacteria do not develop any symptoms at all, and that's because we have hydrochloric acid in our stomach. And it's acidic enough that it can kill the bacteria as it enters the body, so thank goodness for that. Then, of the people who get diarrhea, we think about eighty percent get mild or moderate disease, non-life threatening disease. So that leaves about twenty percent of the people who show symptoms and they're the ones that we're hearing about that are dying at times.

[[header:Crann: Why is cholera so deadly?

[[header:Hallberg: Unlike all the other germs that cause diarrhea that may cause inflammation or may make it harder for the intestine to re-absorb water, cholera opens the flood gates. There's an outpouring of water in a way that's absolutely extreme. I mean it's literally actively pulling fluid out of the bloodstream, and you just can't survive very long if that's going on. People can lose up to ten liters of fluid a day, and if that's happening, that's not compatible with life. You're going to get dehydrated. Your electrolytes are going to be out of balance and death can ensue.

[[header:Crann: Very quickly.

[[header:Hallberg: Very quickly, within hours sometimes.

[[header:Crann: So, how is it treated? If it's a bacteria, I'm thinking antibiotics.

[[header:Hallberg: Exactly, and you can use antibiotics, but that is not the first line of treatment. It seems so simple, but the idea is: if you get this, you need to replace the fluids that you're losing. So what you do is you take a packet that has sodium and potassium and chloride and sugar, and you mix it in a liter of water. It's sort of like Pedialyte or Gatorade, but costing pennies a packet. And you simply give that to the person who's having the symptoms, and you keep giving it until the symptoms run their course. And it's as simple as that. That's incredibly life saving. It's just a matter of getting the packets to the people who need it and getting them the clean water in which to mix it.

[[header:Crann: Protesters in Haiti apparently are so worried about the spread of this disease that they've rioted, thrown rocks at a clinic that was opening. Are those concerns warranted?

[[header:Hallberg: Cholera and bubonic plague, in historical context, have sparked such fear and anxiety. I mean this goes back hundreds of years. There are major, major pandemics of cholera in the 1800s that would come with waves through Europe and the United States and other countries around the world. And I think it's almost like in our DNA that when you hear that there's a cholera outbreak, people are just so afraid.

[[header:Crann: It's hysteria over the disease because they see how destructive it is to people?

[[header:Hallberg: Absolutely. I mean to see someone die within hours of a disease - there are very few diseases that cause that kind of death on such a broad scale.

[[header:Crann: We're hearing that it was not very common and it was thought to be all but eradicated on the island which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic. What does it take for it to reappear the way it has?

[[header:Hallberg: Almost in every case today, when you mentioned Pakistan and Nigeria, it's displacement of people. When you've had war or famine or earthquakes and sewage systems are disrupted and people are living in camps and there's no way to ensure that the water that they're consuming is clean, it's a perfect setup for this kind of thing. So, the fact that it's happening tells us that cholera probably did exist on some low-grade level in Haiti. It was never fully eradicated. We were worried after (Hurricane) Katrina that New Orleans would experience cholera, and it didn't, because cholera isn't here in this country.

[[header:Crann: It was eradicated because of what? What's the number one thing that kills it off?

[[header:Hallberg: It's just simply having a good working sewage system. If we consume clean water that's free of any bacteria ... like this, you can basically eradicate it.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 4:25PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Today Adam and his friends leave for Haiti. Adam works for OLPC, One Laptop Per Child. Actually he lives and breathes this stuff...and rarely sleeps. In fact, this is Adam's HOLIDAY, the first in 3 years. His friend works for Waveplace, an organization which raises money to purchase laptops for children and creates training materials that teach digitial media skills.

Here is his friend's blog entry from the airport:

Sitting in Newark Airport, waiting to board my flight to Miami, watching the hundred or so strangers also waiting, I'm pensive and patient and getting philosophical.

With years now to this effort, with tens of thousands of dollars invested that will not go to my daughter, with my wife's clingy kisses this morning, and my tired sore limbs that need rest . . . Why On Earth am I doing this?

Why am I flying to Haiti when I could much more easily train teachers in my local elementary school? Are these people around me less worthy than Haitians? What of their children, their futures, their hopes and frustrations? Shouldn't I be improving my own community, the neighborhood I live in, and not some faraway place?

I have no connection to Haiti other than a trip I took with my mother when I was twelve. I have no reason to be there, or anywhere else outside my home. So why the expense, the danger, the endless hours, the pit in my stomach?

Because it's the place of greatest need. Plain and simple. Because there's a real difference to be made there. Because I can.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 4:42PM
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Places like Haiti will always exist, and maybe they exist to create heros, like your DS 'bug and his friend, who are willing to put themselves in places where there is no comfort . I will enjoy your updates, and hugs to all of you.
Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 9:01PM
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Love the expression in the second photo. I think he's trying to be serious for the photo but can't help smiling. I can't imagine how much they must appreciate their laptops.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 12:17PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Haiti is not by any means the only island spot where the XO laptops are introduced: Nicaragua, Florida and the Virgin Islands have also received some laptops.

Over time the actual computers have been redesigned with improvements. This can assist in saving time on such things as recharging a classroom full of computers early each morning. Mentor training has been increased as well and materials are continuously expanded and translated...by volunteers. So much thought is put into methodology.

And another blog entry:

Around you now, at a cafe, on the street, in the next apartment, there's a person sighing deeply, bracing for the day. Not so much the tasks that weigh heavy, but what we make of them: our attitudes, our expectations. We think the worst not because we want, but because it's happened before, and it hurts less than hope.

And it's all the same between us. The twenty-something sighing because she lost her iPhone charger is no less worthy of compassion than the father worried about his children. Our struggles are relative to whom we've become. The yardstick we imagine of better and worse is as fluid as the weather. The woman who has no money for food has an easy smile and talks easily with a stranger on the subway. The Harvard son with manicured nails looks at the floor, trapped in himself, afraid to cross the chasm, empty.

So when we talk of "poor" when it comes to Haiti, one should keep relativity in mind. Haitians have each other in a way we've mostly lost.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 6:53PM
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I'm enjoying reading along, GB. Thank you for sharing!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 7:00PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Timothy's blog
Sun, October 31, 2010
D1 .. New Traffic Patterns

Typing now from Manalo's Inn in Petite Rivière De Nippes on the northern end of the southern peninsula. Tonight we met with most of the ten mentors and about a dozen of the children. Before that Adam and I braved our way through Port Au Prince, Carrefour, Petite Goave, and Mirogoane in our rented Mazda pickup truck.

Let me just say that actually driving myself through Port-Au-Prince is a completely different experience. It's a real trip navigating through a chaotic stream of pedestrians, motorcycles, trucks, buses, and animals. Not hard, actually, but very different. There's a comfortable calamity to the maelstrom, though I was glad when we got out of town onto Route 2.

For a while it was smooth driving, then we went off 2 onto a secondary road. The bumps and chasms and impromptu lakes were another layer of fun. Then we started picking up passengers in the truck back ... first a man ... bump, bump (Is he still there?) and then a mother with a ten year old girl and an *infant*. Driving through mini ravines without ejecting your passengers out of the back of your cab is a new experience for me. I somehow made it through, with everyone smiling behind me.

Then we arrived at Manalo's, which was surreal to say the least. This Italian fresco resort like place after a full day of tent-if-you're-looking. Now Manalo and his guests are enjoying the very loud strains of ja-haz while I type.

And yes, I'm tired! But we're in Haiti, and survived our first long solo car trip (Adam's doing great with his French). Tomorrow is at the school at 8am.

Oh, and yes, there's a hurricane coming. Gotta love it. Tomorrow's the last official day of hurricane season, but they made a special effort.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 10:40PM
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    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 10:48PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Hope this works...

Here is a link that might be useful: Map

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 10:50PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

There's lots of propaganda on the Waveplace site...and for good reason. They need money! But this is one video I enjoy. It is an early one, from 2008. I love the curiosity of the kids, the commitment of the mentors, the incomprehensible French, the kids outside peering in the door and windows... Look at the very bottom video on the page called Giving Laptops to Children.

Here is a link that might be useful: video

    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 3:41PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Beth is one of the people on Adam's trip. She's gorgeous...

Here is a post of hers from back in July following a day from He!!

Wed, July 07, 2010

I title this post "O.M.G.!", in response to yesterday's "O.M.G.", because it is nearly the polar opposite of yesterday.

In fact, nearly the polar opposite of....noon today.

Ned saw me over lunch. I was a nervous wreck. The iPhone wasn't working, class was not as I had hoped, things were tearing me apart. I could hardly take another minute.

And then, the sky opened up.

Spoke with both UNICEF and Voice of America about funding our program this morning. Both organizations are definitely interested in lending a hand. It will take a lot of pushing, but things are looking up for us. Even the US Embassy might be able to help if I can think of a way to rework the proposal.

So I leave things with a smile on my face.

I get to class plenty late, having been at Voice of America in the afternoon. But the teachers know I'll be arriving later and they know to start class without me. When I get there, I see some kids playing in the schoolyard, but the school itself looks empty. I saw Professora Adelina's car outside of the yard so I know the teachers are at least still here, but where are the students?

Slowly, I make my way into the first classroom.

And there I see Professor Miguel, and a whole group of students, quietly focused on their computer screens. One student looks up. He sees me. "Professora," he says, talking to me. "Come see my painting!"

This is the beauty of Etoys Lesson 3.

I go into the second classroom and it is exactly the same. Except this time the tables are rearranged so they're all facing each other. The students are equally silent, drawing. The class is nearly the opposite of yesterday. It is perfectly peaceful. The students are drawing houses, trees, sky. It is so beautiful and I am just beaming.

Everything we went through yesterday is worth these moments.

When we finish class, I try not to bother the teachers. Ok, so they haven't taught the students to draw their pictures using individual items (pressing "keep" over and over). I mentioned that to the teachers and we're going to do it tomorrow.

We also had one student try to make with his computer when it was time to go home. The kids are still pretty bummed that they can't take the computers home.

But things are peaceful. We're getting more chargers from the STeP UP office, Faia is fixing the power strips, the teachers are teaching class and the students are happy.

Drove home on my motorcycle. Really killed it...felt great. Then I fixed my iPhone. All of the stress from the last two weeks has miraculously melted away.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 3:57PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Nothing is simple here....

Here is a link that might be useful: waiting

    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 9:06PM
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Thank you Marie for posting this information about your son's purpose in life. It must bring him great joy to see it put into action! I know you are one proud (although a bit concerned) Mother! All of this is very interesting and I will look forward to more updates.

The little girl, holding the computer, looks so happy. Adam must be filled with joy to bring happiness to so many children--happiness and hope for the future.

Yes, Beth is drop dead gorgeous. I love what she writes. Thanks for posting all this Marie. I will look forward to reading more about Adam's big adventure!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 10:08PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

As I said, my son does not sleep, so this is from 3:30am. My quirky geeky son used a cell phone for the first time in his life to transmit his message from Petite Riviere de Nippes. He is asking tech friends to work to help get photo programs for the XO laptops into distribution.

Some highlights from his message:
- Several older Haitian kids I saw today were obsessed with taking photos, but unable to integrate them into Etoys & all other storytelling on their XOs. Such a shame.
- A 1AM Haitian marching brass band just right now passed me by, celebrating the "1st day of autumn". Haitians are tired of cholera, hurricanes and earthquakes.
- Some are installing solar+Internet on the roof of their 900-kid school's roof here instead. Let's hope it all works, unlike the generator they could not get working this holiday morning, til I bought them gasoline and fired it up with an old rope just long enough for their kids to dazzle us with on-the-spot Etoys animation.
- No time to write, let alone meditate, in this sea of humanity+greenery+water+sewage+mosquitos+gratefulness+humble-while-demanding-hope as we drive through a few more beautiful lush rivers, and meet a pile more smalltime school leaders.

Here is a link that might be useful: location

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 6:28AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)


WHEN: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2010, 12:30 - 2 P.M.
(1050 Independence Ave., S.W., on the grounds near the Sackler
Museum and the National Museum of African Art)

On Tuesday, November 2, 2010, ten young residents of the Housing
Opportunities Commission’s
(HOC) subsidized housing in Gaithersburg, will travel to the National
Mall in Washington, D.C.
to help test a photography application on special “XO” laptops that
are given to children in third
world countries by the “One Laptop Per Child” nonprofit organization.

All of the children going to the Mall are former participants in
“PhotoKids,” a photography
program coordinated by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery
County in collaboration
with HOC and professional photographer/artist/teacher, Joanne Miller.

After establishing a connection to the Internet on the Mall, the young
photographers will upload
their photographs to the XO computers to test the photography software
on the machines. Their
feedback will help the program designer improve the software for use
by children around the
world. The photos will be posted on the Arts and Humanities Council of
Montgomery County

“One Laptop Per Child” was created by Nicholas Negroponte and others
from the MIT Media Lab
to design, manufacture and distribute laptop computers that are
inexpensive enough to provide
every child in the world access to knowledge and modern forms of education.

“Photo Kids” was made possible by the generous support of the Arts and
Humanities Council of
Montgomery County, the Montgomery County Employee Giving Campaign and
Sovereign Bank
Foundation for the Arts.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 6:32AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

D2 .. Petite Rivière

Yesterday was a full, full day. Starting with breakfast and Internet at Manalo's Inn with their wonderful view, then "We absolutely cannot be late" and we were off to College Saint Antoine de Padoue, the site of our 2009 pilot and two of our pilots last Spring. We arrived just before Michena, at "8 am sharp."

We started by getting the kids together for a photograph. I had them raising their XOs in the air and saying "Squeak .. Etoys" and swaying.

As it was a school holiday, we have trouble getting electricity. We bought some gasoline across the street and got the generator going (thanks Adam!). Soon the kids were plugged in and ready to show off their Etoys prowess.

We met with the mentors after class to talk about their concerns and ideas for the future. I asked them the "difficult question," which was ... if we were to promote some of you to assume more of a leadership role, how should we pick? What criteria should we use? I stressed that I wanted the choice to be made by the whole group and not by Waveplace. Some passionate discussion followed. They decided to talk more and get back to me.

Later, Michena, Adam and I had a late lunch and then backed up all 64 laptops, which was quite the assembly line. By the time we were done, it was completely dark. We needed to use XOs to illuminate our keyboards so we could see to type.

Afterwards all the mentors joined us across the street for drinks and LOUD music. I showed them Gnome/Linux on the newest software update and suddenly it became necessary to upgrade all of their machines (most running home to get their machines) so they could have a grownup system. The rest of the night we talked and played with Gnome and AbiWord and Audacity, etc.

As we were leaving, several told me how happy they were that I had come to visit and that we were giving them this opportunity. It was truly good to see our friends that we had met in Matènwa and meet the new mentors as well. Our trip, though brief, was a true confirmation of the greatest success of our efforts ... the mentors:

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 11:32AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Wed, November 03, 2010
D3 .. Songs and Sights on Route 2
Tim's blog

Yesterday we started with breakfast at Manalo's Inn while I blogged, then picked up Michena for our bumpy journey along Route 2 to Léogâne/Darbonne. Our first stop was in Miragoâne to meet with Father Grandjean from the Petite Rivière school. We were surprised when we arrived to see his new school, with an audience already assembled to hear about our program. They even sang for us as we arrived.

The group was very impressed with the laptop and with our vision for education. Father Grandjean seems like a great partner for both Petite Rivière and Miragoâne. I was very happy we brought Michena with us, as having her speak of her experiences (in Creole) to the group was clearly effective.

After Miragoâne, we continued along a smoother section of Route 2 to Petite-Goâve to meet with O.N.E.T, another prospective Waveplace partner. They too had assembled many children and adults for our talk, and they too sang for us!

At both locations, it was very difficult to say "maybe" to these hopeful people, particularly the children. Our purpose was to evaluate the locations for possible pilots, but when you're talking in front of a large group, it's hard to press the point that they might not be chosen. We are at the mercy of OLPC, who decides whether they will receive laptops, and our donors, who decide whether to help us fund these pilots. I did have the kids say into the video camera, "Please give us laptops", in English, just to make it harder for OLPC and the donors to say no. We at Waveplace of course would say "yes", though it is not for us to say.
O.N.E.T looks like a very strong grassroots Haitian organization that would also be a very good partner. Meeting groups in person is incredibly valuable.

After Petite-Goâve, we continued on Route 2 to Léogâne. Soon after we left, the car began to act funny, as though the transmission were in trouble. The car was shaking in frightening ways. After a while, it started to smell, so we pulled over to check things over. After scratching our heads about it, we decided to continue, and strangely, the problem had gone away. Later we determined that I had switched to 4 wheel drive while using the gas, which is not good.

Finally reaching Darbonne, we saw Joseph, the team leader for our pilots there, on a motorcycle. After hearty greetings we continued to one of the four schools where they are working with the children. Today there were only a few of the 40 students working with the laptops, along with four mentors. They say "as well as"!

(tarps, wall repair and destruction...)

As in Petite Rivière, it was great to see the mentors again. It's also something to see Darbonne for myself. The destruction from the earthquake is clearly visible, as are the rebuilding efforts. The hammers didn't stop until well after 10pm. I only hope our efforts can help rebuild their education efforts as well.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2010 at 12:29PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

This map helped me better understand Wednesday's journey. On it you can find Miragoane, Petite Goave and Leogane/Darbonne.

Here is a link that might be useful: following the journey

    Bookmark   November 3, 2010 at 12:42PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Thu, November 04, 2010
D4 .. Four Schools in Darbonne

After a restful sleep at Abelaire's house, we interviewed Joseph about his thoughts on expanding the project throughout Haiti. "No government, no government." After breakfast, we began our walk around Darbonne to visit the four schools working with Haiti partners.

At each, we were introduced to every class and showed them the laptop, though many had already taken part in the pilots. Joseph had them say to the video camera, "We want more laptops, please" and "Thank you OLPC and Waveplace."

One of the future schools was recently built using the template developed by Haiti Partners. Looks like it will be a wonderful school once it's opened.

As we went to the fourth school, we decided to take the car, but discovered we had a flat. After some scrambling to find all the pieces to the jack, Adam and Joseph fixed it quickly and we were on our way to the last school.

To cap off the evening, the Léogâne mentors gathered to talk about their needs and the future of the project. It was very good to see them all again.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 9:43AM
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I just love the picture of the kids with their laptops taken under the arch with the beautiful mountains in the background! Is Adam the thin young man wearing glasses? Sure hope the hurricane isn't too serious.

Marie, I have really enjoyed keeping up with Adam's trip to Haiti. Please continue posting.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 11:28PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Yes, Alice, Adam is rather tall and skinny...and wears glasses.

We are approaching the end of the first week of this trip. Soon Adam will be traveling apart from Tim, and so I'm not sure how much more news I'll receive about his work. This is when my nerves will take a beating I suspect.

I am starting a new thread due to photo overload!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 10:53AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

I have a new photo to add to yesterday's post from Tim.

It belongs after this section:
"One of the future schools was recently built using the template developed by Haiti Partners. Looks like it will be a wonderful school once it's opened.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 11:00AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

You may continue here:

Here is a link that might be useful: Haiti, Part 2

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 11:31AM
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