Day 3 in Haiti – Tuyen Phan

By September 30, 2010Our Efforts: Haiti Project

Each night in the last 3 days I didn’t go to bed without thinking of how possibly can a human being live in this environment?  Eighteen years of living in Vietnam I thought I saw enough poverty, beggars on streets, polluted air by trash and cars, but no where close to what I’ve seen in Port Au Prince in the last 72 hours here.  The magnitude of destruction struck me.

Leaving the Guest House at 7:45am and getting home around 4:00pm everyday, we travel on the same narrow, bad-conditioned streets and see similar faces and the same activities.  I have a hard time thinking of what they do and what they want to accomplish.  Every night I just pray and wish them the best.

Today we visited Quiesqueya Christian School (QCS).  This is a well funded school ran by a non-Haitian group.  QCS is a PreK-12 school with 285 kids from different nationalities.  We met with Miquette and attended their weekly chapel session as you can see from the Day 3 movie (below). Miquette is a teacher who left Haiti when she was in 9th grade.  She went to Minnesota, graduated from university, and became a nurse.  She left her comfort and materials behind, came back to Haiti and immersed herself into a difficult situation with the millions of other Haitians who are struggling daily after the quake.  I can only imagine if everybody was like Miquette, there would be only better education for kids in those developing countries.

I had a chance to meet with the QCS technology director, his name is David.  David shared his experiences living in Haiti dealing with local ISP and technology.  A T1 line costs $8,000 to $9,000/month, yes it’s US dollars.  All computers have to run linux to cut down the software cost.  I noticed a few Intel 383, 484 Compaq machines; those David said he will take them apart and retire most of them.

He shared a funny story about the bid to rebuild the Fiber broadband in Haiti after the quake.  There were a few companies, including a Washington based company, a few other European teleco companies, and a military based North Vietnamese teleco company.  The winner of the bid was the North Vietnamese teleco company.  Why?  The labor and materials are cheap.  So the North Vietnamese sent 18 engineers and workers to Haiti and rented a 2 bedroom apartment and has been here since May.  I really hope the North Vietnamese group knows what they are doing and take responsibility to sustain ongoing support if issues arise.  The Haitian country needs help more than any other country now to survive through this difficult time. I hope they made right decisions and work with right people.

Everyday is a new day for me here in Port Au Prince.  I am not a strategic individual who can sit and talk for hours on planning, but from short conversations with some authorities that I met, I can feel the urge to get Haiti through this tough time.  Eight months after the quake there are still 1.2 million people living in tents. The progress of rebuilding Haiti is slow, leaving kids with no schools and pushing back their education.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Colleen Berretta says:

    Very informative post, Tuyen. Thank you for adding a technical perspective that is so relevant to what we do.