Thursday, August 5, 2010

There be angels

So as anyone who follows this blog knows (or should know darn you!) I have been laboring to acquire infrastructure for Haiti. Technology infrastructure. There is plenty of content here on my ideas of an information economy for Haiti. A lot of stuff about technology for education. A lot of stuff about the academy to turn out thousands of technologists every year and to provide gainful employment for those graduates.

So these are ambitious plans, goals and dare I say dreams? I know how to build the infrastructure however as I know as well as anyone on the planet knows this stuff is expensive. Really expensive. Once you have the stuff you have to have the skilled people to do the work. Expensive again.

Much of what I have done on Haiti in the last three months has been associated with this overall idea of building a technology infrastructure. To that end I have bothered and pestered and cajoled people to help. That has not yielded a whole lot of tangible progress. Yet chance encounters and conversations have led to the point achieved this day August 5 2010: In a warehouse in South Daytona Florida is enough equipment to build the foundation of an information society in Haiti. No exaggeration and no hyperbole.

A guy by the name of Rob Degnan found out what I was doing in Haiti and sent me some surplus gear a few weeks ago. He turned around and told a friend of his name of Lou what was going on and Lou contacted me. Lots of surplus equipment available in excellent shape was I interested? You bet. I took a look and said 'let's do it send it to me." Ah. Shipping.

It turned out to cost $ 3,000 to ship a full semi trailer load of technology equipment. I don't have the money. Lou picked it up.

I need to spend a month or so going through this equipment; setting up operating systems; configuring equipment to the particular project of which there are more than a dozen; I need warehouse space and work space.

I spent a month asking around for donated space. No go. The truck left NJ on Tuesday still no place to do the work. Andree's brothers said we can put it in our warehouse thanks a ton guys. That was fallback position but the work couldn't be done there not enough space and more importantly it would interfere with their day to day business.

I met a guy by the name of Dwight Selby at, of all places, a garage sale last Saturday. It turns out he owns a warehouse complex. He is also involved in a Christian mens group that does good works. They do not appear to be affiliated with any particular faith or church. Just good people trying to make a better world. Dwight was in Haiti in June doing just that. We had a lot to talk about. Being who I am with no compunction about asking for help I asked Dwight for help.

Dwight gave us an amazing space to work in. Warehouse space to hold a space shuttle it seems and an air conditioned office area in which to work. When the truck showed up this afternoon Dwight spent three hours sweat in the 105 degree heat with me to unload the equipment.

Andree came by and went right to work. Of course.

So tomorrow the work begins to build the equipment out to the specifications need for almost a dozen projects in Haiti. We have a place to work; we have the gear; there are volunteer engineers ready to get to it. In a month we will load this stuff into a shipping container and it will go to Port au Prince where the volunteer engineers will stage it and set it up. The government will have capabilities never before even dreamed of. Education will be available in ways never envisioned. Property records will be available in ten milliseconds instead of ten weeks. And a bunch of other capability that has been a pipe dream for the folks in Haiti who thought this stuff up.

So whatever your definition of angel know that angels walk amongst us. They have skin of every color. They do their daily work and then they step up and do more; tired and hot and exhausted they stand up for other humans.

There be angels and it is my honor to have met so many.

Lou (and the team)
and so many I haven't named.