"The children and staff are safe, though they have only enough food and medicine for about a week. The markets have been closed in Port-Au-Prince, so this could become a concern. Emile said earlier today that he feels things will get better soon because of the peacekeepers.This raises two important issues on the Haiti Pilot. The first is one that was brought before by Wayan: OLPC is an education project, but there are maybe some places that are beyond the reach of the One Laptop goal. It seems that the riots are calming down now, but what if they did not?
Everyone's taking it day by day. I just got off the phone with Emile, our chief mentor in Haiti, who is staying in the countryside until things come down. Our pilot is effectively on hold due to safety concerns. I'll update you when I hear more about the children, who are close to the area of the protests."
If violence in Port au Prince escalated to a point where most family would be forced to flee to surrounding areas, what would happen to the pilot project? Would the families disperse and the valuable laptops quickly vanish from the kid's hand as they where forced to sell/give it away? Or would Waveplace Foundation grab all the laptops from international donors and move out of the country, or risk having the school looted to bare bones?
Maybe we have to wait until political stability has reigned in some places, before a long term education project can be invested. Maybe it's too much risk for those precious resources that could be more safely invested in quiet rural areas in Peru. Maybe the "Mudhut argument" is true and laptops serve no good for kids below a certain threshold of poverty, that lack more basic things such a peaceful environment in which to grow.
Or maybe not, and that's the second important issue on this. Watch this footage sent us from Haiti:Although it has CNN stamped on it it's clear that much of those videos are made from amateur cameras. We are talking about impoverished Haiti, all right, but we are talking about a 21st Century impoverished Haiti and they are also part of the digital imaging generation, and those in the middle to upper class in Port au Prince can afford some way to film video and post it online.
None of them are actually coming from kids with XO laptops, but - hey they could be. We are all shocked hearing those reports of violence from Haiti, but maybe if there were no computers anywhere we might never hear them in the first place. Thanks to this connecting technology we can see the San Francisco Olympic torch protests live on the web, we can see the violence in Zimbabwe in Google maps.
And thanks to a mesh system this communication network might still work if everything else goes down. So giving the impoverished kids of Haiti a way to allow their voices be heard, their stories be told and allowing them hearing news from the world outside even during a crisis is a way to be a part of this new generation.
And maybe this is worth all the risks.