A Boston-based team of computer technicians and organizers is reaching out to the Haitian-American diaspora today with a request for volunteers to help their project. In particular, they are asking local Kreyol speakers to come out to a training session on the campus of Tufts University in Medford this Saturday (tomorrow) at noon. Sabina Carlson of the Ushahidi project explains further below:
"Ushahidi is doing groundbreaking work on helping to connect Haitians on the ground with humanitarian organizations. Using internet technology, the group is connecting urgent needs of Haitians on the ground with the resources and relief necessary to save lives. Ushahidi is researching the web, tracking radio stations, and receiving text messages directly from Haiti to find messages describing needs of water, food, refuge, medical care, and urgent necessities. Then we map the information and coordinate with aid efforts on the ground to match the service to the need.
1. Haitians (in Haiti ) text a message to “4636” with where they are and what help they need
2. Volunteers in the Haitian Diaspora log onto our site and translate the text messages (usually in Creole) into English for us
3. Our team here in Boston takes those messages, and using an online map called “Open Street Map” (www.openstreetmap.org ) tries to identify the location of the person who send us the text message, and finds the GPS coordinates of that location
4. Our team then takes those coordinates that and puts it on our map at http://Haiti.ushahidi.com
5. Organizations working on or coordinating with efforts on the ground then use this map we create to help organize their humanitarian response.
But we need the Diaspora, because you have the knowledge, experience, and expertise that our team could use to be incredibly more effective! and i have 5 urgent requests that the diaspora has to spread:
If you are in the Boston area
1. Come in for our big training this Saturday (Jan. 30) at noon, at the Fletcher School for International Law and Diplomacy on 160 Packard Avenue, Medford, MA! It is impossible how important it is for Haitians to be present for this training, not only to understand the system and learn how YOU as the Diaspora can use it to track aid and development for decades to come, but also to inspire and motivate the dozens of Tufts students already volunteering around the clock to help out those working on the ground! Every additional person helps us process the thousands of requests for aid much more effectively and efficiently, and the time we save can save lives…
If you are anywhere in the world
2. If you know of any medical efforts on the ground that need help, it is critical that you log onto this website: http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dHhLbXNSd3JJTVNvYzYzY25lUVdUbUE6MA . as you all know, vast amounts of medical equipment are either accumulating on the runway in PauP and are coming in through the ports day by day, but are not getting to where they need to be. However, a couple of major players are finally beginning to take a comprehensive assessment of who is still on the ground, where they are, and what they need. And then start deploying those supplies to them. But they need YOUR contacts on the ground: again, if you and your community know of ANY medical personnel or centers currently operating on the ground and in need of assistance, go to that spreadsheet and enter their information as soon as possible! The site is still a work in progress and needs more translation etc. but please do your best with it at the moment and the information is getting where it needs to go…
3. Many of the maps our team is working with are missing lots of information, which makes it impossible for us to effectively map the humanitarian needs - If you have a good knowledge of the following places, please, please contact Sabina.email@example.com as soon as possible!
d. Carrefour Feueilles
f. Cite Solé
g. Crois-Des Bouquets
h. Areas North of the airport in PauP
4. Spread the word! Translate this into French and Creole, forward this e-mail to everyone in your communities or churches or Hometown associations (and cc Sabina.firstname.lastname@example.org if you remember) print out copies as flyers in your neighborhood or your church, pass it along through facebook or twitter or radio… Every person added to this effort makes a great impact and helps us process thousands of requests for help day by day…