(from http://zoranjeschool.blogspot.com/)

Computer Class Graduation
We want to congratulate the graduating class of the Waveplace Zoranje. In the six week course, 20 students aged eight to 17 learned how to perform basic functions using the internet and Microsoft Word. They also learned how to design their own stories using the computer program ETOYS. During the graduation ceremony on March 2, 2012, students delivered presentations of their stories to their peers and family members. The graduating class also showed their family members how to use the computer programs that they had learned in the course. The students were taught by a team of four local professors from the community—Agenord Alain, Alexis Oberjo, Maeva Pierre, and James Vernelus—and earned a certificate for their participation and successful completion of the course. They hope to continue to improve their computer skills in future courses.

Waveplace Trainer Site Visit Report

Before the work of Michena, I have visited with Adam and Junior pilot of Athletic Prodev last 12 of August after the workshop to Cap Haitian.I have seen that the mentors and children work very well and the children make Good project, and mentors use projector to teach children,mentors learn another mentor how he can use etoys and teach children, I have seen that he was very intelligent and teach children well.They don’t have problem with laptop and other materials.They do good management of materials.

About Michena’s visit in prodev she told me that she has very glad to see the work of children, she told me that mentors work very well, according to her  and me we can say that Athletic Prodev is the better pilot in port-au-prince after Acacia school, she have seen the responsible of the pilot,she was visited other part of school with the responsible,the responsible was very glad for the visit, they have a room of informatics very confortable, in prodev there are three classes with are finish to learn etoys and storybook, mentors do other activities with children. Like the responsible talk to you and me about certificate, mentors also ask to me by phone and Michena too to have theirs certificates and I can say that they do effort and work well to have theirs certificates.  BRAVO FOR ATHLETIC PRODEV!!!

Wednesday the 22nd was a true success, all the more because I had very little to do with it.  Other than driving and leading off each lesson, I pretty much watched all day, which is exactly what I want to do.  My ultimate role is to become unnecessary.  If there’s one lesson to be learned about creating sustainable laptop programs, it’s that outsiders should do less so that locals will do more.  Allow the vacuum to be felt.

After a nice continental breakfast, the group headed up the hill an hour early, as planned.  We got there before anyone else, as Elisabeth had said, which gave us time to negotiate with Mercy Corps to use the downstairs room for the rest of the workshop.  Someone pointed out that upstairs was air-conditioned and downstairs was not.  I choose ample room over A/C, especially since we’ve never actually had A/C during a Haiti workshop.  It was the right call.

My one useful contribution for the day was helping to set up the tables and chairs and suggesting we use masking tape to mark where they should be placed later on.  It really does help to have lots of room to walk behind people.  Also, choosing good locations for the power strips and extension cords prevents the usual hourly tripping that inevitably follows.  As unsexy as chair & table placement might seem, it ranks right up there with power & content & food as hallmarks of a successful workshop.

Evens led the first adult lesson, which was on the Etoys viewer.  I was very pleased to see that he had heard my remarks about projecting, as he was clearly in command of the room, but in a friendly, helpful way.   Elisabeth was likewise animated and strong in the second adult lesson.   Both of them were clearly improved from last February, which was wonderful to see.  They will certainly become our first L4 trainers in Haiti.

After lunch, we led the children outside for another activity.  I suggested the mentors lead them in a song, as we did nearly every day at AMSAI, though it was a little difficult getting everyone going.  People weren’t as used to spontaneous playfulness as they were at AMURT, which made me think we should make it an explicit part of the training, rather than “Hey, who knows a group song?”

I led the children’s lesson off by talking about making storybooks, instructing the mentors to talk to the children about character (“who is in the story”), setting (“where are the”), and conflict (“what happens to them”).   I then asked them to show them the supply box, paint canvas, and halo, which was an accelerated way to introduce three lessons at once.  My hope was to make the introduce more purpose-driven, giving immediate relevance to the material.   Also, I was condensing … we normally have ten children’s classes and this workshop we had only three.

Most of the class was mentor & child, with trainers helping as needed.  I walked around and again felt successful for being unnecessary.  The mentors had understood the earlier lessons and were actively helping the children learn the material and create the storybooks.  Some mentors were a bit too hands-on.  I saw one storybook about the earthquake that was clearly written by the adult, using words like “infamy,” etc.  But all in all, the 45 people in the room had a good experience, one that was at the same time deep and creative.  If the Haitian Minister of Education had walked into the room, I would have simply let him watch things and would be happy about it.

In the second adult lesson, Elisabeth introduced scripting, which is the first of three core computer programming concepts.  By the end of the lesson, the room was alive with croaking and honks and other Etoys sounds, with spirograph patterns on everyone’s screen, having just learned turtle geometry.

The team breakdown meet was very short.  “Everything went very well.”  We all agreed.  When we got back to the hotel, I had a quick meeting with a gentlemen from Haiti Outreach, who seemed very interested to offer the training to two schools near Cap Haitian.  I then began my preparations for the Courseware Workshop the next morning.   I felt pretty daunted by the task, not entirely sure what to expect or how to prepare.

Tuesday the 21st was our only morning free, though rather than take a needed break, I of course decided to do the hard thing: boxes.  Planning to leave at 8:00 for AMURT, I got some Mac laptop time in while drinking coffee on the hotel porch, waiting for people.  The plan was to go with the three college girls, since they wanted to see AMURT’s “child friendly zone” (aka school) in the Sineas camp.  I also asked Evens and Elisabeth to go, since they didn’t have to prepare for lessons later in the day.  By the time the girls came down and negotiated with their driver (an ongoing theme), we were running an hour late.

Evens,  Elisabeth, and I headed across town in our truck. I was kind of glad that Adam stayed at the hotel, since it allowed us to speak without a translator.  “I’ll teach you English and you teach me French.”  We spoke about many things, particularly my criteria for choosing “level 4” trainers:

  • projection — can teach a full room in an engaging, inspiring way
  • helpfulness — watches everyone, helping constantly
  • initiative — rolls up their sleeves and works without being asked

During the previous night’s breakdown, I had mentioned these, noting that Evens and Elisabeth were very strong with “helpfulness” and “initiative”.  Pretty much every time I checked, they were both helping someone.  During the laptop prep day, they were the last to take breaks, the last to leave.  The area they needed help was “projection”, since they both seemed to prefer working with people one-on-one.  I had to often remind them to be louder.

During our drive to AMURT, Evens made it clear that he not only wanted to be a Level 4 mentor, but he wanted more: to be an area coordinator.   He told me that he’s been traveling to Port-au-Prince every week to take management classes at a local college.  Of all the trainers, he seemed to want it the most.

At AMURT, we unboxed another 115 laptops while I spoke with the Dada.  The college girls had gotten a bit lost in the camp, so showed pretty much when we were leaving.  They went off to see the school, while Evens, Elisabeth and I raced back to the hotel with the laptops.

I then started carrying laptops to the hotel room, with pretty much only Zo helping me.  “We’re late and no one’s helping.”   Carrying large stacks of laptops up three long flights of stairs, over and over, sweating up a storm, I pushed myself beyond my limits, but got it done. When we finally drive up the mountain and got to Mercy Corps, it was exactly 1:00, the time for class to start. Unfortunately, lunch was late & more extra people had come.  Before we’d all eaten and we negotiated who would stay and who would go, another hour had passed, so we started at 2:00.

After introducing things, Zo led the first lesson while I acted as helper to my group of seven.  Evens later asked, “If you can’t speak French or Creole, how did you help them?”  The answer is “showing them.”  It’s  amazing how far you can get, with both adults and children, by wordlessly showing the steps and pantomiming the rest.  Leading a lesson is all but impossible without translation, but assisting is easy.

Zo did a great job leading, as I expected.  He’s great at the first criteria, “projection.”  He’s a naturally charismatic and engaging teacher.  The pacing of the lesson was hurried though, no doubt because of the late start.  I later said in the breakdown that fun is more important than thoroughness, that skipping material is perfectly fine.  People need some room to try things comfortably.

College girls

Michena’s lesson was slower, though it was missing Zo’s friendly charisma.  In person, Michena’s a funny, warm woman, but when she gets up to teach, she becomes much stricter, no doubt modeling the teachers she’s seen in the past.  One of the Waveplace touchstones is “If you’re not having fun, then they’re not really learning.”  Encouraging people in Haiti to “teach with love”, as they called it in Nicaragua, has always been difficult.  The widespread teaching paradigm is that of strict, rote, disciplined memorization, something we’re essentially the opposite of.

PRODEV partners

Driving home, we again passed through a police roadblock on the road through Canape Verde. The day before, the other car got stopped by the police, who were asking for papers, and money.  I had heard about this practice, which seems to be reserved for Haitians, not whites.  In response to the injustice, Zo started writing down the officers badge number and the cops got very angry.  Things could have turned worse, but their driver, formerly of the national security force, asserted himself dramatically and things calmed down.  By the time my car stopped to see what was happening, all was well.

Later that night, the group talked about our lateness that day.  The girls had told me that many of the mentors had shown up at 11:00, which meant they were essentially waiting for three hours before class started.  I felt awful that my team showed up at 1:00, but rather than make a decision for the group, I asked everyone what they wanted to do.  Should we show up an hour early?   The conversation went around and around.  People clearly didn’t want to lose that extra hour in the morning.  Finally it was Elisabeth who said, “We should be there before the mentors.”  Everyone agreed.

Monday the 20th started with the usual scramble at the Oloffson, though this time it was for the first day of the workshop.  I had told everyone that we would leave at 8:00, which would give us an hour to get there and an hour to set up.  As always happens, someone is late, or something gets remembered at the last minute, or people take too much time discussing logistics, etc.  We left after 8:30.

I had of course mapped a route out using Google at the hotel, but while driving I second-guessed myself and got turned around, wasting another fifteen minutes.  I know that doesn’t sound like much, but on a first day you really want to set the right tone.  You want to show up early.  After driving up Avenue John Brown, we arrived in Pétion-Ville, though I again made a mistake by remembering the Acacia cross-street, not the Mercy Corps one.  We parked in the wrong place while Michena asked people for directions.  I finally got a Skype IM to Kyle who set me straight.  We drove into the tiny gated parking lot, directed to a spot under a fruit tree (branches scraping the roof ), and we rushed upstairs to the workshop room at 9:30.

The team set about positioning tables and chairs (always a challenge), but wait!  We forgot the power strips.  Mercy Corps offered to send a driver to the Oloffson to get them, which was truly above and beyond.  The last class wouldn’t have been possible without it.  People started arriving and sitting.  It was a packed, packed room, with hardly any room to move around.  At 10:00, we started the workshop on time.   I began talking expectations, philosophy, and laptop.   One of the groups came late and I started over a bit.  We then handed out the laptops and they started exploring.  With each of the four trainers watching a specific group, we had the leader-helper thing going pretty quickly, pretty smoothly.

One of the best changes that came out of the February workshop was giving the mentors time to fumble around and explore things on their own without telling them anything.  We had them explore Sugar activities without any guidance other than the view-switching keys.  I later gave my “Confusion is Good” speech, which went over very well, with only a few suspicious looks.  Throughout the workshop, people kept saying “Confusion is Good,” usually as a joke when something was going wrong, but still, it’s an important message to get across.

After the first class, we moved downstairs to the larger room and set up for the children’s class.  With all the mentors and children, we needed 47 chairs, most of which came from our room upstairs.  A train of chairs and tables was flowing past as we discussed the next issue … some schools had more than 5 mentors, which was unfair to others.  I spoke to one partner, who agreed that one of his group would stay home the next day.  Two other schools had to send someone home.  It always happens that extra people come, though four of the five groups had extras this time.

The children assembled outside and I told the adults to hide their laptops so we could do a big reveal to the kids.  The kids came in and sat down, with each having their own mentor to sit next to, some of them two.  Lunch was served, garbage collected, and we started at 1pm sharp.  Amazing.   I spoke to the children a bit about becoming computer programmers, then asked them if they’d like to see the laptop.  I brought mine out and the kids all went “ooh”, then after a quick demo we handed one to each child.

Now you’d think that my favorite part is giving out the laptops, but after having done this a couple dozen times, that’s no longer the case.  My favorite part is watching mentors work with children for the first time.  By pairing an adult with a child directly after the first adult class, we’re giving the mentors a chance to use their new knowledge right away as they teach the children.  What was an abstract lesson upstairs becomes a real one immediately as it becomes more relevant, as seen through the eyes of an amazed child.

After 90 minutes of exploration and talk, I brought everyone outside to do my “tell an alien how to get a chair” exercise, trying to drive home the point that you need to be very explicit with computers, that “computers are very stupid … you gotta tell them everything.”  The kids and mentors had a good time.  My larger point was to show the mentors how we use kinesthetic activities to engage the children.

After the children left, we again played “move the chairs” to go back upstairs again, though later asked ourselves why we did this.  The third class, which introduced Etoys, was pretty tough, mostly because everyone was tired.  Our brains were full.  As the week progressed, we all vowed that we would never again agree to three classes per day.  It’s just too much for everyone.

As we left, I told Makeda, our translator, how much I appreciated having her translate for me.  It makes a big difference to have an enthusiastic translator that appreciates and understands the program.  She was easily the best so far.

Back at the Oloffson, we had our team breakdown meeting.  We all agreed to try to hold all the classes downstairs.  A large concern was the length of the day.  “When can we rest?” asked Zo.  The trainers weren’t happy with the 8 to 6 schedule.  I reminded them that the three long days were instead of Saturdays, and that they would be paid the same as if they had worked two extra days.  We also agreed to take breaks between classes, rather than go nonstop as we did that day.

All in all, it was an exhausting, and productive day.  Best of all, I made it through without passing out from Sunday’s sickness.

Yesterday was the first day I was capable of abstract thought in while, so it’s probably time to continue the blog.  Better ten days late than never.  The trip really does deserve a full write-up, which I had neither time or focus to do while it was happening.  So let’s return to Sunday, June 19th …

The day started very early for me, rushing to the bathroom numerous times, emptying pretty much everything in my system.  Diarrhea’s unpleasant enough in the States, but in Haiti it takes on a new dimension of worry and discomfort.  First thought is “Thank god for a nearby flush toilet.”  Next thought is cholera, which I’ve heard drains you of seven liters of water in a matter of hours, so I start playing head games with myself, guessing how much is how much.  The next game is “how did I get it?”, wondering where I let my guard down.  I counted four possible scenarios, two of which were later eliminated.  My best guess at this point is the buffet at the Hotel Montana.  Given that it was a buffet that got me last time, I’ve pretty much decided to swear off buffets in Haiti.  The last head game of course is “Will I be able to stand during the first days of training?”

So I decide to test the vertigo and get some coffee (I know, I know).  Walking to the lobby and dining porch seemed easy enough, so I refilled my water, got some coffee, and tried a couple of sips.  After a bit, it became clear that I might not make it back upstairs, so I left my coffee and scrambled to bed.  An hour or so later I’m downstairs looking for meds.

I walk up to an American woman working by herself on a laptop.  “Excuse me, by any chance do you have some Imodium?”  (meanwhile musing that in Haiti this is probably a standard greeting among visitors).  Well, I picked the right person to ask.  Stephanie is a nurse helping to treat cholera.  She quickly diagnoses me and runs upstairs to get Cipro (which I forgot), re-hydration salts (which I never had), and the phone number of a doctor she knows.  What a turn from bad to good luck!  (the first of many this trip).  Turns out she’s staying with the three college girls I’d met the day before, that offered to help with the laptops.

I head upstairs to tell Adam that he’ll have to lead the laptop prepping session, since I likely won’t be able to get out of bed.  I pour salts in my water, along with some powdered Gatorade to help with the taste, and start my first of five half-liters for the day.  Adam assembles the mentors and they start triaging laptops and reflashing.  (apologies for the next two blurry pictures, my auto-focus switch some how got turned off)

Out of 126 laptops, we had only 54 “bricks”, which was considerably better than last February when we had more than half.  The trainers started reflashing the good ones, while I played RAM on my Mac, then songs from Many Hands, telling them about my twilight night.  I prepared USB jump drives on the bed, still lying down, while listening to the trainers talk to each other in Creole, trying to catch bits and pieces of their jokes.

After a lunch break, we were joined by Rachel, Emily, and Ana, who first listened to my Waveplace rap, then some movies.  They seem very excited about Waveplace, though my little dog-and-pony show completely exhausted me, which didn’t bode well for the start of training.  Adam taught them and the trainers how to dissemble the laptops. We were all thankful for the big room and balcony.

While everyone disassembled, I worked on a quandary.  Apparently the newest version of Terminal didn’t work, something we’d discovered only after reflashing 72 laptops, all with that version.  If I couldn’t figure out a way to easily uninstall the bad version and reinstall the older working version, we’d have to reflash all 72 laptops again.  I tried finding a command-line way to uninstall activities (none).  I tried the simple Sugar way (no luck).  After about an hour of further half-hearted attempts, I came upon a very simple solution that required simply putting in a USB stick and starting the machine.  I’m glad I was able to solve the problem, though distressed by just how muddled my brain was.

Our group of eight was able to debrick all 54 laptops in about three hours, which was quite the improvement over just me and Beth last February.  Just as Adam was assembling the last laptop, power went out in the hotel.  I held my iPhone up to give him light to finish.  We all agreed that it was Providence that power lasted all day, allowing us to get as much done as we did.  In the end, we had only seven questionable laptops, which is a low 6%.

Later I chanced a plate of spaghetti after a day of not eating.  The re-hydration salts clearly had down their job, as I was feeling much better.  The spaghetti was easily the best I had ever had, not just for my hunger but also for the excellent seasonings.  After a nice long talk with Stephanie and the college girls, I went to bed feeling ready for our early day of training.  And the food stayed down.

Woke at the Oloffson, had coffee, and walked to our truck, only to find a flat tire.  Looks like I’m keeping up with my average of one flat tire per trip.  We found a Haitian to change the flat (glad we didn’t have to muss up our suits for this) and later fix the tire.  After a quick drive to the ICT event, we walked in just as Michel DeGraff was giving his talk.  It was good to hear about his further progress at the Maténwa Community School, a project which Waveplace started in 2010.

After some great presentations and a few one-on-one talks with Guy Serge Pompilus, Genevieve Douyon, and the presenter from Accenture, we headed back down the hill to meet our trainers at the Oloffson.  It was wonderful to see all of them again … (left to right) Zo, Michena, Elisabeth, and Evens.

After catching up with each other and waiting for Adam (“Ou est Adam?”), we got in the truck, but not before some impromptu shots of Zo and Michena.

I found my way to the AMURT headquarters where we were let into the room with 400 boxes from all over North America, sent by individual laptop donors.

We set up a dismantling line with me heading things off by taking photos of all of the return addresses, so we can later send thank you letters to the donors.  As I was doing this, I would yell out, “California”, “Rhode Island”, “Hawaii”.  Something about opening all these boxes and hearing where they are all from, especially with Haitians helping, feels really great.  It’s a way to remember each of the individual sacrifices that make our work possible.

After a few hours, we had opened 126 laptops and created a pretty large garbage pile for AMURT to clean up (apologies for the lack of focus).

We packed all the laptops into the backseat, with four people riding in the back of the truck, then drove home in the dark to Oloffson after a few missteps.  After our 126 laptops were safely in the Jonathan Demme room, we discussed expense reimbursements, which turned into a vigorous discussion, then ate dinner together.  The trainers were a bit shocked by the prices at the Oloffson, so that may be our last meal together. I gave them all $15 USD per day for food, allowing them to spend it as they like.  I expect they will all spend a fraction of it and keep the rest.

Later that night, I got my first suspicion for what was to define my next day. I’d clearly caught a bug.

I woke at the Engle’s house and talked with John and Merline, catching up with my two favorite people in Haiti. The previous night’s journey up the detour road had me worried that I’d be able to find my way on my own, so John asked one of his workers to escort me, giving directions. I was also worried about the 45 minutes it took, given what would likely be a tight drive to and from the workshop next week.

Driving down I took note of the turns … left, left, left, left, left … easy! Also for some reason it took me 25 minutes instead of 45. So the detour wasn’t an obstacle after all. I made it to the Montana just in time to see Benaja and my new friend Fequiere. Also in the picture is Dominique Hudicort, sister of Caroline, one of our partners.

 

The conference started with a talk by Creutzer Mathurin, from the Ministry of Education, whom I met with in February.  He spoke of the education situation in Haiti, citing some sobering statistics:

  • 4628 schools were destroyed in the earthquake
  • 69% of Haiti’s population is less than 20 years old
  • more than 500,000 children are not in school
  • more than 3 million people considered to be illiterate
  • 70% of teachers are underqualified (do not meet ministry’s norms)
  • 80% of secondary school teachers have already reached retirement age

 

We then heard from Jeffrey Sachs via Skype, who talked about his work in Africa.  There didn’t seem to be much substance to what he had actually accomplished.  He was the first of the day to say, “We’ll make educational content for Haiti.”   The next speaker was from MIT who talked about OpenCourseWare, again suggesting “We’ve solved the problem, just use our stuff.”  In the question and answer period, a Haitian gentleman stood up and suggested that Haitian materials need to created for Haitian needs.  This brought applause from the audience.  Later on, Mike Truncano from the World Bank said, “(Don’t) Assume you can just import content from somewhere else,” which again brought applause.

Surrounding the talks, I made many great connections with people, especially those in Martelly’s transistion team and others from the Ministry of Education.  Many said that they would attend our courseware workshop on Thursday morning.

Midway through the day, I got an email from Richard Morse that our rooms at the Oloffson were confirmed, which was a big relief.  We were hoping for more space to do laptop prep, and I knew that the trainers were looking forward to staying in a hotel, rather than tents at John’s house.  After the presentations, there was a reception and dinner.  At one point, I was sitting next to Microsoft and IDB to my right and UNESCO and World Bank to my left.  While there I wondered what everyone would think if I told them my own budget … how much I can get done for what must be a pittance compared to their budgets.

After dinner, I drove with Adam, who had shown up midway through the day, to the Oloffson, after a few missed turns along the way.  I simply loved being at the Oloffson again.  The art, the music, the architecture …  it’s a true gem, unmistakably unique.  We spoke with Richard Morse for a bit, then went to bed in what must be the nicest room in the hotel, the Jonathan Demme room, with a wonderful balcony.  I fell to sleep happy.

 

Each trip the routine gets more routine: fragrant air as I deplane, Haitian band playing in the hallway, bus to immigration, forms & passport, baggage and the customs guy that waves you through, mob of people outside, string of “super helpful” men who won’t hear no.

My first stop was Digicel to get minutes and check that my phone & number from February still works. I added $15 USD and got assurance from the man that I was good. Then began the search for my rental car, which was supposed to be waiting for me. Helpful men would not leave me alone. “You need a cab … ah, a rental … take a cab to the rental … a no, this is where he would meet you.” All along, I’m being friendly and insisting they were wrong. “Why are you walking this way, I told you that is where to wait.” I cannot get through to the rental company with my iPhone, my Haitian phone, or someone else’s phone. Simply doesn’t work. I’m stuck.

Along the way, I see an SUV with the Mercy Corps logo, so decide to meet my new friends. I explain my situation and ask to use their phone. This time it goes through and the Europcar woman tells me a man is holding a sign with my name. I backtrack, and sure enough, in the throng of people by the Digicel office, I see my name. After a short drive to Europcar and some hassles with credit cards, I’m driving again in Port-au-Prince.

The most remarkable thing about my drive up the mountain was how unremarkable it was. I somehow felt at home again in the chaotic jumble of Haitian traffic, playing chicken with huge trucks and bathtub size potholes, dodging motorcycles and pedestrians without worry. Up and up I went, using my intermittent iPhone data roaming to use Google Maps to find the Hotel Montana, where I parked, walked up to the restaurant level, and took in the view.

Looking down on Port-au-Prince from this wraparound view, as though I were looking at Los Angeles and not Cité Soleil and Delmas, I felt keenly the inequity of most NGOs (staying up here) and who they serve (the people unseen down below). Within minutes I met Truncano from the World Bank and another gentleman from Microsoft. “What do you do?” and so it starts. Within seconds of sitting down after a full day of travel, I’m in sales mode giving people the well-worn rap. I take a break to switch into my business suit and score a win by asking IDB to let me leave the courseware workshop invitations on the registration table for participants to take on their own. Then people start arriving.

I’ll talk about who I met and what was said in the next post. President Martelly didn’t make it for his keynote, which made a few people upset, but not me. It gave me more time to mingle, which is really why I was there. One delightful bonus was a few dozen children with XOs from the IDB/MOE pilot. After three years, I actually got to see some of the infamous 13,700 laptops with children using them. A few older boys were using Etoys in non-trivial ways, which was wonderful to see. Anyway, a great night.

I’m typing as I cross New Jersey, on my way to Newark Airport. The sun is just now rising, a clear orange ball above the hills and green. Paula and Isabel drove me to the station, with Isabel in her dragon costume, which she slept in. Earlier I responded to the 27 attendees for our upcoming Courseware Workshop in Pétionville on June 23rd. Quite a lot for two days. We’re hoping to double that number.

Yesterday was non-stop trip preparations. It started with me talking out my trip step-by-step with Paula, discussing each detail so I wouldn’t forget anything. So many little things get missed … screwdrivers, sunglasses, etc, etc. Our friend Robin stopped by to hear more of the drama. While telling her about the ICT event, I became convinced that I needed printed invitations to our Courseware Summit to hand out at the ICT event, though it wasn’t likely that the printing company could do them in time.

I called Bethany at AlphaGraphics. She said, “Sure, but only if you get me the files by 1pm.” That gave me an hour an a half. I begin designing the invitations, but remember that I need to get USB flash drives for the mentors. Overnight to Adam? But it’s an extra $4 a stick for that. I’m about to hit send and I think to check the local Best Buy. Sure enough, they have 30 USB sticks. Paula will pick them up on the way back from picking up Isabel at school. She’ll also pick up the printing & dry-cleaning.

Okay, back to the invitation … only 40 minutes left! Tweak, tweak, tweak. The girls come upstairs to look. “Can you translate this to French while I make the footer?” I add some last minute changes while Paula translates. I decide the invitation will be English on one side, French on the back. Yes, perhaps Kreyol would be better, but at this late hour, I’m not willing to trust Google Translate for that.

I send off the files at six past one, then make the latest training workshop schedule and send PDF invitations to many that I know. Then an hour on Skype with Mercy Corps and another half hour with PRODEV to discuss logistics. I have another look at my invitation and “Ee gads” a typo in Haiti Partners website address. Spend another $100? Sure. I call Bethany … “Can you do another?” She says yes.

Then the boxes arrive. The one with the power strips is very heavy. The girls start cutting open mini mice packages while I figure out how to pack it all. My dreams of a duffel bag and one carry-on go out the window pretty quickly. The lesson books were printed 8.5×11, which are considerably heavier than last time. With the power strips, they fit into their own 50 pound suitcase, which will be empty coming back.

I had planned to go to sleep at 8pm. With minutes to spare, I put my bags in the car. As I relax to eat a quick dinner, my exhaustion takes over and I’m asleep within 20 minutes. Quite a day.

(sent last night to the artists of Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti)

Hello,

I’m sitting on a hammock listening to Many Hands, watching the twilight sky darken, about to make my fifth trip to Haiti, overwhelmed once again by the promise and challenge ahead of me as I head to the place of greatest need.

I work with teachers and children all over the country, bringing laptops and creativity and hope and freedom of a sort. This trip I’ll be reaching another hundred, most of them in Cité Soleil. I’ll also be glad-handing a bunch of so-serious types, all with power to help so many more, and most who miss the point … that we need to free hearts, free minds … that it’s about children being children, that they need a childhood, they need a friend.

Please pass the word to the artists that they’ve given strength to at least one steely-surfaced marshmellow man spending way too much time & money for the kids of Haiti, who listens to the songs along with his 5 year old daughter, over and over and over.

And that one beautiful twilight night in a moment of considerable doubt, Frances England made me cry the shaking kind of sob with the simplicity and truth of “What Friends Are For.” I wish I could airdrop your CD all across Haiti so the kids there could hear what the kids here are jamming out to in the backseat on the way to their happy, healthy home. Those kids and these kids . . . there aren’t words.

Anyway, thanks again.

Tim