(from Friday)

Reached for some banana at lunchtime and there was a shudder.

It felt as if an enormous truck had been driving by for just a couple of quick seconds. I had never felt an earthquake before but I knew it wasn’t strong or even remotely dangerous. Regardless of that fact, however, the first thing we all did was look up at the cement ceiling above us. I looked at Naomi, beside me. Her face was emotionless, or perhaps a mixture of emotion that was too complex to describe. For how can you describe the feelings of someone who has lost everything, only taken back to those days for a brief moment once again?

After lunch we headed over to class once again. It went smoothly today. We’re still having some trouble at the beginning of class. We still have a lot of students that are not actually students of ours, and it’s a painstaking effort to weed them out. In our mentor meeting after class we decided that four mentors would be taking attendance everyday. Whatever kids are left over will need to go home. There simply aren’t enough computer for everyone.

Little details like this end up taking much more time than they should, because mentors are stopping class to resolve problems rather than stepping outside of the “classroom” to talk to Benaja, Bill and myself privately. We addressed this at the mentor meeting yesterday. Our primary concern is to keep class moving, so the kids can keep learning. Some of the mentors finished their lesson early and we’re trying to encourage them to give the kids time to play and experiment if they learn everything else quickly.

Yet despite speedbumps along the way, we’re still cruising.

John (of Haiti Partners) and a friend of his visiting from the USA stopped by class. We were lucky because it was just during what I consider our “golden hour”- when confusion from the beginning of class has subsided and the mentors are teaching well and the students are learning, and everything is going smoothly. To see his eyes light up when he saw the classes in session was magic. We interviewed him for a minute with our video camera. I was reflashing someone’s computer while I did the interview so quickly afterward I had to run away and tend to the time-sensitive process. To summarize and also understate the actual response, I would say that John was quite pleased with class.

At the end of class we distributed juice to the kids. I hear a rumor that it was one of the ideas Tim had up his sleeve, but all I know is that Joseph’s brother, Abela, came to class bearing boxes of juice, and it was certainly a plus.

We’re still having a bit of a computer crisis. As you know, half of the computers we opened up in Port-au-Prince didn’t work. It’s an internal clock problem, and we know how to fix them, but it requires about ten billion steps and various materials that we’re not sure we can get our hands on here. We’re hoping that Tim can write a program that will get the computers to do these steps automatically. We also need to have a PC on hand, so we’re hoping we can find a way to use a functioning XO laptop instead of a PC. There are a lot of “if”s- not to mention the fact that we would have to do this process about 100 times, if our estimate is correct about the other laptops that we have yet to open.

This means that we would have just enough laptops to head to Petite Riviere des Nippes, but perhaps not enough for Williamson and Matènwa. Lucky for us, both of those locations already have some computers on hand, so we could theoretically still do the pilot with a smaller number of computers. It might be something we have to do.

Antoine called today from Petite Riviere- one of the mentors. He told Benaja that they already started training the other five mentors there, and that they’re already on Lesson 7. We’re happy that they’re taking the initiative because I feel like Petite Riviere is getting a little bit shafted, having their program start about a week later so that we can be here in Darbonne for some visitors on Wednesday. Yet we certainly know that they’re tough and wouldn’t delay our visit if we didn’t know that they would be able to manage just fine for a few more days without us.

After class, we all went to a sugar cane factory. They had a tour specially organized for us because the factory was closed go visitors (Bill suggests it’s more evidence of white preference; I think it’s probably a mix of that and just the fact that we’re tourists). Elizabeth, Sobnier, Magela and Marie Flor all came along. Afterward, we went to Elizabeth’s house and said hello to three of her 20 siblings (imagine living in a house like that). Her neighborhood was a disaster and strangely beautiful to an artistic eye- old women doing laundry in what used to be their houses and are now tiled floors with no walls or ceilings, towels with tigers printed on them hanging off wires, the ghosts of five or six buildings close together just behind. Now the buildings are a couple of loose walls and an eerie haze that lets you see the mountains in the distance. A view that Elizabeth’s town probably didn’t have before the earthquake.

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