Waveplace Foundation: OLPC Haiti Rebuilding Done Right


Last night, everyone who participated in the Give One Get One donation program from One Laptop Per Child received an email from Nicholas Negroponte asking for broken or unused XO laptops for Haiti.

Now I'm not sure what OLPC intends to do with our old XO's, but unless they're gonna donate all their collected XO's to Waveplace Foundation, it will be a waste. Why? Because Waveplace Foundation is doing Haiti rebuilding right.

I've always thought that Timothy Falconer had a good head on his shoulders when it came to OLPC - he's been smart to cut through the hype - but I was blown away when I watched these videos this morning.

Waveplace, like OLE Nepal and Plan Ceibal Uruguay, has thankfully ignored most of 1CC"s suggestions and is implementing with local values first. Values like:

  1. Pay Haitians a fair wage for real jobs in education
  2. XO laptops are not a panacea - they are one part of an overall solution
  3. Haitians helping Haitians on a dialy basis, not foreigners
  4. All content must be local - Kreyol in Haiti's case

Better yet, watch these videos of Tim explaining Waveplace Foundation's Haiti response plan and you'll see real thought and planning on using XO's in Haiti:

As you watch these videos, note all the groundwork that's gone into Waveplace Foundation's response. Note that Waveplace has local connections, staff, and knowledge. And note that they're not gonna hand out XO's to random children, like some others wanted to do. Or to aid workers, which I fear OLPC is planning to do.

If you want to donate your XO for Haiti, don't send it to OLPC. Send it to Waveplace Foundation (cash too). They're doing Haiti response right.


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Timothy Falconer of the Waveplace Foundation is leading an amazing OLPC deployment in Haiti on a shoestring. He really has my respect with his [more]


I was not aware that OLPC ever encouraged an aid-like mentality when deploying XOs. In fact, the OLPC model is to put enormous faith in -- and partner with -- governments in almost every instance. To suggest that OLPC is an aid organization is very far from the truth. Yes, at times, governments will work with international institutions for deployment purposes. When this occurs, it is a decision made at the national and local levels in countries deploying laptops.

To be clear, OLPC is the polar opposite of an aid group. To suggest that OLPC will be flying in foreigners to manage deployment and implementation is startlingly inaccurate. In Rwanda, a case where OLPC does have international staff on the ground, that staff is there at the government's request, and is in the process of building a deployment team comprised of Rwandans and is doing so in conjunction with the government of Rwanda.

To be sure, there are times when disaster strikes that lending support on the ground is required, and Haiti may indeed be one such instance. Even so, the success of OLPC Haiti will rise or fall based entirely on the ability of Haitians on the ground to build a sustainable model for success. The success of Peru, Uruguay, Rwanda, Mongolia, and others will also rise or fall depending entirely on the ability of those governments and their partners to build sustainable models.

The writer of this post also suggests that OLPC staff claim that laptops are a panacea for the world's ills generally, and a panacea for the suffering of children in Haiti and elsewhere specifically. This is not an accurate characterization of how people at OLPC describe the benefits of connected laptops filled with rich and dynamic educational content. In fact, it is far from it. OLPC staff consistently suggest that laptops are an important - indeed integral -- part of any educational solution for reasons too numerous to name here.

OLPC staff also assert -- accurately -- that connected laptops have additional far-reaching effects in terms of economic development,as well as establishing greater understanding between cultures among other things. These assertions have been echoed by people all over the world at both the grassroots level and at the highest levels of government in places as diverse as Afghanistan, the United States, Peru and Rwanda.

It baffles me that the writer of this post would use OLPC's efforts to assist children in Haiti as an opportunity to attack OLPC in ways which are inaccurate. It simply doesn't make any sense, and further detracts from what should be the common cause of equipping the world's children children with the tools they need to learn and to connect.

Then what is OLPC going to do with all the XO's it wants to collect? So far we've heard much talk, but no plan. Not even one as crudely explained (but obviously well thought out) as Waveplace's.

In fact, why doesn't OLPC run a collection drive for Waveplace? They're definitely empowering the ability of Haitians on the ground to build a sustainable olpc model for XO success.


1) The G1G1 xos were designed for North American electricity sources -- no solar, hand crank, etc... so are they going to modify them

2) If I send them my xo -- from Canada -- will there be problems at the border?!

Haiti uses same electrical system as North America - also the XO solar panels use the same plug as the adapter plug. So no need for modifications.

Shouldn't be a problem getting them across the border. Hasn't been an issue in the past.

Hi all, Tim Falconer here.

Thank you Wayan for your kind words, and particularly putting my haggard face in so prominent a spot. I've had a few people in the last day say, "Boy, you look tired!" I deeply appreciate your vote of confidence, along with the laptops that people are now sending.

I'd also like to say that personally, OLPC has been a tremendous friend to Waveplace from the very beginning. We couldn't have had a more supportive group to back us up. Whenever we've had problems, I've been able to get through to IRC or 1CC and someone was always there to help.

In the last year as director of the new Squeakland, I've had to navigate through many opposing mindsets. Being the man-in-the-middle of conflicting business, educational, and technical concerns is no easy task, so I've got sympathy for the very large and idealist task OLPC has set out to accomplish.

I've also had the privilege of hearing from many OLPC deployments around the world as the director of the Etoys efforts, and if OLPC is lacking in any regard, it's in effectively bragging at all the good they're doing in places like Uruguay and Peru and Nepal, etc. Yes, it's the people on the ground that make the real difference, but 1CC deserves much of the credit too.

And like it or not, they took a dream and turned it real, which alone gives them my loyalty. Would I be more bottom-up than top-down? Yes. But mine is just one opinion out of many, and I am not privy to the conversations at state levels. I'd rather the kids have the laptops.

Anyway, I was just sitting here feeling uncomfortable with "send them to Waveplace instead" and felt the need to speak up on OLPC's behalf. With ups and downs, and changing tides, they have earned my loyalty many times over.

Just my 2 cents.

I don't know if I completely agree with the presentation or tone of the video. I like the idea, but I think the strategy of you're presentation is hurting you a bit.

First, you try to state you're doing a much better job than OLPC which is a bit unsettling. When you look at the facts, they put 14,000 XO's in Haiti and you're organization has put out 140. Why make OLPC a villian to help you're cause?

Then you hype the product as if it's your idea, but it was their's and of course it has good features, people that are here know that already.

Also you're presentation seems to be a little lacking, but maybe it's because of your bare bones budget. You're obviously tired, burnt out or (to some) a burn out. You're presentation apart from this site, looks like it could be some guy in the basement strung out on drugs and to tired and disorganized, looking for a bunch of XO's to arrive so he can sell them on Ebay. I'm not saying this to slam you or your efforts, just to state this is the perception that the video can give.

I think you should include better graphics and not have it appear that you're just some disorganized guy in a basement throwing out ideas on a piece of paper. Maybe you don't have the tools, but you should find those who do and get a better and more polished video out there.

I'm not against starting small, but also why do you have to make it an "US OR THEM" argument, as if you guys are doing the right thing and OLPC is not. It's kind of like biting the hand of the one who feeds you, not exactly the attitude of a sucessful non-profit. I think you were too tired and used the wrong approach.

In a rush to do as much as we can small streams of volunteers are often overworked and can make some minor mistakes. Maybe this is just one of them. I applaud you if you are really doing these things and hope for you're success. The fact that your schools survived is both good news and also a sign that your schools obviously are out of the hard hit zones that need immediate help, but all of Haiti needs help, so you're still doing good. This is really not a relief effort, but a part of a relief strategy. Immediate relief and massive aid is needed and it involves much more than just laptops but also this doesn't discredit the work of those still working with laptops.

If you've had 4 years of work doing this, then why not show this? Why not put out more information. You have a non-profit, sounds like a small one. How much money is going toward the actual people on the ground, how much are you're expenses. Are you just a volunteer? What's the percentage of your budget that goes toward administration? Are you paid, or just doing this out of your basement for free and working a regular job (which would be my guess?) With so many scams or even small organizations trying to take advantage of a huge crisis, these are things people would like to know when they are sending their resources to try to make a difference.

When we really think about this. The scale of the attack on Haiti by nature is far worse than the Atomic bombs dropped on Japan. If you think about it, they have massive poverty to begin with. Then they lose 200,000 people and have a million homeless. The USA needs to send about 100,000 troops to just rebuild and help in humanitarian aid at least, if we are taking this seriously.

Sorry if my criticisms seem a little harse, I hope you can improve you're appeal and can put out a better appeal to meet and exceed some of the goals you'd have for Haiti.

Hi, Tim Falconer again. Just to clarify, in case the previous comment didn't make it clear. It wasn't my intention to sound like I could do a better job than OLPC. Far from it. That tone was set by the article on this site, which I did not write, or even know would be written.

My quick videos were simply a vehicle to get a complex plan in one place primarily for the Waveplace mailing list so that I could marshal resources to put things into action as quickly as I could.

As for presentation, if you want the slick version, you'll have to wait till next week. Even now I'm rushing off to another meeting with a school principal.

Till then, have a look at this:



I am another Greg, LOL!

Making remarks about a simple video without caring to go to the organization's website, just sounds so stupid! Clearly, they were meant for people visiting the web site, but these ones were pulled and shown here.

The information about the organization can be seen easily at the web site. Not all of us look like movie stars like me! The ideas written on paper as talking points are very creative. When speed is required, FAST and EFFECTIVE communication is required. The videos reflect those qualities to me. I for one do not need need a Power Point presentation to understand the ideas being shown.