• Broden Murray

Pre-launch protocol

Updated: Apr 12, 2021

Things have been ramping up in the States as well as Haiti. We plan to ship the full lab by the end of this month. Here are a few of the highlights:

If you haven't seen them already, Marcus (left) and Gorlonne (right) are the two highly valuable directors. I should say they're more than just directors, because they're already taking great leadership. Marcus is our financial director and outreach coordinator, and Gorlonne will be our primary teacher and lab director. Marcus and Gorlonne are my and James' good friends, respectively, so they have been really positive additions. We can do so much more, and faster, with them.

Packing! We found the right containers and the right foam, and after a long night of slicing and stuffing, this was the result. There are two of these containers; the other will hold the last five laptops, chargers, digital library, computer repair kit, and camera kit. No matter what, we're shipping by the end of this month. We can hold onto the equipment if needed, but we're always moving forward.

The total weight of the equipment is more than I would've liked, which is going to make shipping harder on us. Still, we have quotes from UPS for cross-country shipment and Agape Flights for air to Haiti, and the budget has worked around these. Agape is a delivery service that serves missionary work; our close ties with St. Dunstan's Haiti Mission are proving very helpful in this respect.

So where do the laptops go when they arrive in Haiti?

...yeah. It would be nice to strap them to the back of a moto and ride off to the Central Plateau. Motorcycles are indeed the most common form of transportation in Haiti (that isn't your own two feet.) It is our goal to have a motorcycle as our lab transport: it's offroad-capable, reliable, and relatively cheap. James got an excellent quote for a local motorcycle--pictured above--but as of now our available funds are still limiting us. We have enough to ship the lab with all equipment and supply our teacher's wages for at least the first month of education, but no moto. For now, we can use public transportation. Tap-taps are privately owned taxis that are widespread and well-loved, so they will do just fine for our first month.

This is a typical urban tap-tap. Many are just a person and a motorcycle.

We will still be able to get them to our first school, Lamarre, just fine. That's what's important. Our first month of instruction will take place there, and there will inevitably be lots of troubleshooting to do (not to mention that August will be the first month that Haitian children will be back in school since February. Civil unrest had shut down Haiti months before quarantine.) That's why we're planning a pre- and post-survey to evaluate the results of the first try. These concrete results will be much more conductive to fundraising than a promise. James has already arranged a place for the equipment to stay during the first month of teaching. He does such good work. Speaking of,

Jim and Gorlonne are doing an excellent job refining our curriculum. Planning and teaching is hard enough, but they also have to translate this document into two more languages for their American audience as well as their young Haitian classes. Given the long ground trip and oversea travel between James, Gorlonne, and me, they still have some time to do so.

What's nice about a digital library, as opposed to textbooks, is that the teaching doesn't have to mirror the content. Sure, it's ideal that they're the same, but what's important is that the content can change depending on the teacher's needs. To start, our digital library has Wikipedia in three languages, the Gutenburg Library and Khanacademy Lite, among a few other tools. Once I introduce the system to our awesome teachers, they'll be able to add or remove the content they feel they need.

Screenshot of the interface as it looks right now. This is what a student sees connecting to the library with a laptop.

So much love to the Internet in a Box team for developing the interface AND providing technical support. ( Open-source is the future.

Finally, Marcus and I are continuing to look for private sponsors. I don't want to claim anything until it's certain, but it seems we have solid interest in our cause from several sources. One more huge thanks to every friend that's donated to our Gofundme, which is still open, but like I said, we must keep moving forward.

That's why I recently purged our family's old electronics drawer and listed some items online. All the sales are going right to the project's account. That's also why donations don't have to be cash! Any old computers, phones, chargers, whatever, if they can't be used directly with the project, can still support us. You never know what has value.

Fig. 1: Includes a fitness tracker and a digital camera from 2006.

Whether you are directly working with our team or you just clicked on this post, I thank you. We're so close to giving a lot of isolated kids a spark of opportunity. The road's going to be rough the first few trips, but I'm willing to stay on the motorcycle.

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