The 2014-2015 “Bridge to Haiti” project is off to a great start! Thanks to a generous donation of time and resources from Geodis and the Bridging the Digital Divide Program (BDDP), SUNY Broome’s ‘Health for Haiti’ was able to provide six refurbished Panasonic Toughbooks for schools and orphanages in Haiti.
The six laptops were distributed to four different locations in Haiti. The Home of Destiny orphanage (2), Coram Deo orphanage (1), La Feve school (2) and the community of Grande Saline (1).
It was amazing to see the excitement surrounding the Toughbooks. Each location is making plans to offer computer literacy classes using the materials provided by BDDP. Several lessons have already been translated into Haitian Creole by Shaina Louis, a SUNY Broome student who is from Haiti. Shaina will continue to work on the translations over the summer.
The laptop distribution is the first phase of an effort to set up solar powered computer labs in Haiti. The remote community of Grande Saline will receive at least 8 additional laptops in January, and plans are underway to construct a classroom for computer training. We are working hard to put plans in place to try to help establish Internet access and fund a teacher. (It costs about $150-$200 a month to pay a teacher’s salary in Haiti.)
In addition to providing children and young adults with the opportunity to acquire new skills, we hope to establish up a virtual “Bridge to Haiti” that will allow the SUNY Broome community to communicate with the people of Haiti. There are many opportunities for sharing knowledge and learning from each other.
We will be communicating with our four computer sites over the next six months and learning about how the computers are being used and what can be done to maximize their effectiveness for literacy training. We will also gather information that can be used by SUNY Broome students who can create additional training materials.
We are also looking to the future to build additional computer centers. There is a desperate need for computers and computer literacy training in Cite Soleil, so we hope to be able to assist them as well.
Along with our efforts to build a computer center in Grande Saline, we are also working with the Pall Corporation in Cortland, New York to bring this community of over 1000 families a water filtration system that can provide 10,000 gallons of clean water each day. The people of Grande Saline do not have access to clean water and often become ill from drinking contaminated river water.
One major challenge for both of these projects is to successfully transport the equipment to Haiti and to Grande Saline.
We will continue to make plans over the coming months with the hope that in addition to our health clinics and education activities, our 2015 Health for Haiti class will be able to help with the establishment of the computer center in Grande Saline, computer literacy training, and the installation of the water filtration system.