Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I am in Santo Domingo at the CARDICIS III. To know what the conference is about go to the website:

This conference proposes to take a look at the recovery of the Haitian nation and peoples from new perspectives. It is incredibly productive. A presentation of recommendations will be made to the Presidents of Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Friday afternoon.

First session ran over ten hours. Tuesday and Wednesday will be the same.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Working in Port au Prince

I am in Haiti again, I arrived Friday afternoon. I will be here until mid-day Sunday then on to Santo Domingo for the CARDICIS conference through Friday night. Look it up; it is an interesting event.

Today I got the Hotel Oloffson's media hotspot up. A little more work by the broadband vendor Monday morning and media types will be able to do useful internet from Port au Prince. This is a joint project of Wired.com; Conde Naste magazines; MultiLink and the Hotel Oloffson. You should have seen all of the NGO folks staying here today when I told them that there were three Apple laptops for use by anyone. Keys have been clacking nonstop. Richard Morse, owner of the hotel, is being really generous in letting people use the hotel's communications. A lot of NGO and UN folks stay here so it's a valuable infrastructure to relief and recovery efforts.

This afternoon and evening I am going to the Salvation Army HQ to plan a broadband installation there. Bob Poff, the guy who brought me to Haiti in January, contact me last week. The organization is moving into permanent HQ finally and have no internet. No emails; no browsing nothing that we all consider basic to the functioning of any office. I have enough computers and servers to build them out so that will probably be a July project.

The IBM donation to Save the Children/Ministry of Education finally got approved. That equipment is in transit to a freight handler in New York and will consolidated into a single shipment next month.

It looks like July onward will be very busy coordinating installation; volunteer engineers; physical plant stuff.

It is good to be back.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Got a wonderful donation today

I inventoried donated computer equipment from a company in Piscataway New Jersey today.

Great equipment. About 70 desktops; 25 or so servers; two self-cooling data center racks and a bunch of ancillary equipment. This stuff is some of what I mentioned in Thursday's posts. The equipment is used but in great shape.

This technology infrastructure is going to fundamentally change a lot of lives. I am very excited. Combined with donations from individuals and companies including IBM I now have about one full twenty foot container of equipment to get to Haiti.

Compared to securing the donations and moving the equipment to Haiti the deployment and installation will be fun.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A missive from Jordan

Jordan Allie is one of the two former Marines whom I met in mid-January. Jordan and Josiah did the standard Marine gig in Haiti: saving lives and being quiet about it. We stay in contact a bit. He sent me this piece from Robert Service. I know I have seen it before but after the last five months it strikes a chord with me. I do not feel that failure is a consequence of failing to fit in but it is deeply moving to me. To all who pick up and go and to all of our families who suffer because we do; if I may be so arrogant as to include myself in this group.

The Men Who Don't Fit In By Robert W. Service:

There's a race of men that don't fit in, A race that can't stay still; So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will. They range the field and they rove the flood, And they climb the mountain's crest; Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood, And they don't know how to rest. If they just went straight they might go far; They are strong and brave and true; But they're always tired of the things that are, And they want the strange and new. They say: "Could I find my proper groove, What a deep mark I would make!" So they chop and change, and each fresh move Is only a fresh mistake. And each forgets, as he strips and runs With a brilliant, fitful pace, It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones Who win in the lifelong race. And each forgets that his youth has fled, Forgets that his prime is past, Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead, In the glare of the truth at last. He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance; He has just done things by half. Life's been a jolly good joke on him, And now is the time to laugh. Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost; He was never meant to win; He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone; He's a man who won't fit in


I have a round 11 technology projects in some stage of completion in Haiti. NGOs and government ministries.

I have been beating the bush to secure equipment donations and all I have managed generally is a bunch of thorns from the bushes.

This week I have received donations of the following:

Cisco networking equipment
SAN storage gear
A bunch of monitors for desktops
A large brand new UPS unit
At least 80 desktop computers with fresh Windows operating systems and monitors
Quite a few servers

This equipment is going to do three projects in total and contribute equipment to three others. Schools are going to be the recipients of the bulk of the gear; adult literacy programs are the focal point.

This is exciting. Now the challenge: I have to get the equipment from the US to Haiti. I am working on donor transport but right now it looks like it's got to be payment for shipping. Oh well.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The shelter question

The NGOs and the UN who are running the shelter cluster (UN speak for the agencies making sure that the homeless in Haiti have a place to live that is dry and safe and free of intrusion by mosquitoes et al) decided a couple of months ago that rather than providing tents to the homeless that they would use tarps.

I have yet to find anyone in the system who can explain this decision to me. The subtext is cost. A tarp cost about $ 30 delivered to Haiti. A decent durable tent cost about $ 500. There is a need for about 400,000 shelters. Now remember that we aren't talking about permanent homes. I am talking about immediate shelter needs for hungry injured people; one third children.

So the powers that be; primarily the Red Cross; decided that tarps would be the answer. While some staff were and are on the ground in Haiti the decisions are made elsewhere.

As noted on this blog by a representative of the American Red Cross (ARC) hundreds of thousands of Haitians made homeless had been provided shelter.


I dug into the numbers. 560,000 tarps to house 1.5 million homeless. 60,000 tents.

I pressed and finally got someone who actually had some numbers.

The site surveys by the shelter cluster tell us that between 3 and 5 tarps are required to produce a viable shelter. There are other components: the shelter cluster tells people they need to access local resources to build a frame for the tarp. No floor of course and forget keep mosquitoes out.

So the media relations folks at the ARC say the population has been served above the 90% level.

Bullshit twice. Take a look at this recommended shelter construction picture. It is helpfully written in Creole.

Imagine you are a mid-30s single parent with one elderly parent to care for. Of the five people in your family group one has significant trauma from the earthquake perhaps an amputation. The children have been living in the dirt four the past five months. The job you counted on to provide money to buy food disappeared 12 January. Most of the food aid to the camps has stopped. Water is hard to find. Everyone is sick. Depression? You can not even imagine. Every day the struggle is to find food and water for your family. Dry clothes are a thing of fantasy because it has been raining for two months. And the people responsible for dispensing the hundreds of millions of dollars of aid that the world donated tell you to do the following:

1. Find open space of about 200 square feet.
2. Find four or five tarps.
3. Locate structural lumber to build a frame.
4. Locate a shovel
5. Locate various fastening items such as clips; ropes; hammer; nails
6. Build a frame that is properly cross braced.
7. Build a peak roof on the frame.
8. Properly attache tarps to the frame for side walls.
9. Put the roof on the structure (guess you need a ladder)
10. Assure that all materials are firmly attached to withstand torrential downpours and high winds.
11. Find mosquito repellent because even if the thing stands up you can't secure it against bugs.

Do all that while trying simply to survive. A good tent cost $ 500 and will house ten people with stand up headroom; a waterproof floor; ventilation via screened windows. The citizens of the United States donated $ 400,000,000. Of which over $ 300,000,000 remains unspent. Enough to buy 600,000 ten person tents that at half occupancy could hold three million people.

The Red Cross would rather keep the money in the bank and turn out this sort of drivel. No awareness of the real situation on the ground. No sympathy to the victims. Just bureaucratic crap that some think tank put together in their air conditioned office in Geneva or Melbourne or Washington. This is so shameful it approaches criminal liability.

With no further ado here is the shelter cluster's recommendation on how to shelter yourself in Haiti. Let's all build one of these so we can live in sympathy with Haiti eh. Yeah that won't happen in my lifetime.