A large group of students with some of our team
On December 18th, a team of five IIT students, one student from UIC, one student from UC-Boulder, and two awesome mentors returned to the United States after a successful return trip to Haiti.
For the first part of the trip, the team worked on improving the current solar solution at the EFACAP school in Lascahobas, Haiti. The students held several meetings with the teachers and the parents to get feedback on how they feel the addition of the solar panels (in order to charge their OLPC laptops) has affected their school and their community. Both the teachers and the parents responded very well to the meetings and were very excited to get to become further involved in the project.
Another big part of the trip included the installation of the charging stations that were developed this semester. The team was able to design a simple charging station using materials that can easily be found in Haiti (pvc & hardboard) that costs less than a dollar per laptop to build. Not only did the team install a few of these new charging stations, but they were also able to get a couple of parents to show up and learn how to put them together. After the new set of charging stations were installed, a few of the students from the school were excited to help stack the laptops in their new home.
In addition to all of the meetings and the building of the charging stations, the team had another big task to accomplish. The team helped to hook up the school with the internet. With the help of our partners at Inveneo, the team not only connected the school to the internet, but also set up an entire campus network with three hot spots spread throughout. Each of these hot spots required the installation of an antenna and a small solar panel on the roof, and a charge controller and the wifi access point. Due to the addition of internet on the school's campus, the team was also able to install two servers at the school. One of the servers will be used to monitor the solar array that was installed in August, and the other server has been set up so that teachers can upload content locally and other teachers and students can access it from any computer.
One final meeting was held with the teachers at the end of the week. Since only two of the twelve teachers had ever used the internet, several of the team members held an internet training session with them. The students taught the teachers how to access content and upload new content to their new server. The teachers were also taught how to use tools such as Google Haiti and Wikipedia Haiti. Many of the teachers were quick to learn and had fun showing the others what they had found. At the end of the training session, the students walked the teachers through the steps in order for everyone to be able to make an e-mail account. The teachers were very grateful for this session and were beaming with excitement over this new tool that they now have access to and know how to use.
A lot of different things were accomplished during this trip including creating a much stronger bond with the school and the community. Even throughout the busy days of work, the team was able to find time to play games with the students during their breaks from class. Everyone had a lot of fun and was sad to leave the school towards the end of the week. The teachers and administrators are very excited for the team to return in the summer. Overall the trip was quite a success!
Happy Holidays from all of us at IITEmpoweringHaiti!
A student helping to stack XOs on the new stations
A team member helping a teacher with the internet
Some team members playing a Haitian game