Sunday, July 3, 2011

Technology Pushes Forward

On this cool Sunday morning, I have enjoyed my usual multiple cups of coffee and the New York Times. The campus now has a system called "Hotspot" that allows you to buy wireless access in various increments. I have been using it all week, in addition to my iphone for which I purchased a special plan for roaming coverage in Haiti. Now I admit that I would have much preferred the feel of an oily paper in my hands that I could look through and select pieces that looked to be of interest. But I was able to quite easily download multiple articles from the Times to ponder along with my coffee. A typical Sunday morning ritual.

The first year I came here, we paid $10 to send home one satellite FAX. I kept a written journal. By the second year, there was some access to a shared email program that involved putting your message on a disk to be sent out later when the satellite phone was activated. Then, an "internet cafe" opened in the administration building and you could wait patiently for your internet email program to open. The last 2 years, there has been wireless coverage in the library for visitors during selected times each day. This was the point that I went from a personal journal to an on-line blog. The system, though, was prone to sudden breakdowns and a long blog or email could easily be lost before it was posted or sent. Now there is "hotspot" available in the guest houses and it has been quite reliable other than during the height of the huge thunderstorm yesterday--no surprise for a wireless system.

The Haitian people now make wide use of cell phones and there are digicel dealers on every corner. No TV coverage that I know of here yet in Deschapelles, but with internet access so widely available, that is becoming less important. Entertainment can be downloaded. CNN is always there for news.

Yet, with all of this, cholera still contaminates the water. The UN, the overflowing number of NGO's and the Haitian government cannot provide the people with simple clean water. From what I understand, the UN has finally admitted that sewage produced by troops from Nepal was accidentally dumped in the wrong place and this was the source of the cholera outbreak. It is clear that this was a mistake, but it is not clear at what point in the process this happened or who actually did it, as contractors were involved.

As we wash and rinse EVERYTHING in chlorox solution, including fresh food, it is hard not to despair.

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