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Haiti Outreach

Project Haiti

August 11th, 2011

My name is Kshitij Mahant. I am second year Masters student at School of Information Studies majoring in Telecommunications and Network Management. When I heard about the Haiti Project I was so sure I wanted to go for it. Many people tried to warn me about kidnapping and gunfire threats in Haiti and tried to tell me how dangerous it might be. However, I reasoned that kidnappings and other riots also happen in the most sophisticated and developed countries. In the present situation, Haiti is extremely fragile after facing lots of natural and political disasters and this is the time when they need our support and help. I am very thankful to my family for supporting me with my decision to go to Haiti and contribute towards rebuilding some of the damaged IT infrastructure at the University of Haiti.

The first visit to UEH campus was really surprising. There were very few buildings and a few temporary classroom- like open structures made from wooden sheets. Most of the times, the buildings were running on generator power. One campus had a limited number of computers and limited connectivity with only 2-3 machines connected to the internet. Some tech-savvy students used to get their own router and share the network among friends. The entire campus has a mere 2Mbps internet line and the line is usually shared by hundreds of students!  As compared to the limited, shared connection the UEH students have, I feel rather lucky to have a broadband 10Mbps line at home for personal use! However regardless of physical and technical infrastructure and resources, all the students were very enthusiastic and motivated towards education. The students were very amazed and happy that we were going to set up campus wide Wireless Internet. Many students voluntarily came and helped us install wires across building even though they had exams in the coming week. A few students asked, “How many months you will take to complete this wireless setup?” Our answer was just 2 days. The students were astonished on hearing our ambitious timeline and waited late in the night till we finished our work. They were eagerly waiting to use this newly deployed network. The sheer jubilation on faces when they got connected to Wi-Fi gave us all a proud moment worth remembering for a lifetime.

Our initial goal was to set up wireless network at one campus and at most two campuses. Tropical storm Emily and some custom issues with our equipment set us back by two days. But the whole team wanted to finish the work and keep up the promises made to UEH students and faculties. In spite of a red alert situation in city, staff members manage to complete some of the work at one of the campuses. Thanks to the wonderful and hardworking team and guidance of the staff we successfully deployed Wireless Network in 3 out of 11 Univ. of Haiti campuses. Setting up all the three campuses (Faculty of Science, Faculty of Law and Inaghei) with Wi-Fi connectivity was much more than we had targeted. The happiness and appreciation among Haiti students and faculty towards us was amazing. It felt really great after doing bit towards rebuilding the University’s damaged network infrastructure.

The entire team is extremely talented and hardworking. On our last day in Haiti we all worked over 14 hours without any break and having only nutria-bar and water. At the end of the day we all were covered in dirt, concrete dust, stains on clothes and blackened hands. Still nobody complained and everyone wanted to work more to help new campuses. The entire credit goes to all our staff leaders Chris, Lee, Peter and Achille who trusted us with this job, gave us freedom to figure out things on our own and implement solutions and most importantly, took very good care of us.

We also met the 6 students from Haiti who will be joining SU from fall 2011. SU is giving them complete tuition funding and also living expenses. These students were so excited and also very motivated towards joining SU.

A lot of people focus on the poverty and recent calamities that have struck Haiti. The media tends to focus on how badly Haiti was affected by the quake. It may be relatively easy for people to “plan” help or fundraising efforts. A lot of people donate funds and resources to Haiti but very few people track whether the resources and help are actually reaching Haitians or whether the plans are being executed to improve their standard of life. Before this trip even I was one of these people. However, after having worked on this project to Haiti, I can proudly say, “Been there and actually done something that mattered!” We all feel proud that not only did we plan or donate things but we also went there, deployed wireless network at the university and helped students getting connected to the rest of the world.

Some of the news article and our interview with News Channel 9 abc are given in following links.

Syracuse.com

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2011/08/syracuse_university_students_s.html

News Channel 9 abc

http://www.9wsyr.com/news/local/story/SU-students-return-from-Haiti/KK6s83j9qUa9W9zTRC-aXg.cspx

 

-Kshitij

A Shining light in the Dark

August 7th, 2011

 

 

Never thought this day would

Come where I would see a shining light

In  this dark tunnel

A dark tunnel that has globed

Haiti for so many years

That I can’t really recall

When it really started.

Scared of the dark

Since I was a little kid

I’ve time by time

Lost hope

To finally get at the

end of this tunnel

Where all I would see would be

Brightness.

But As they say

miracles happen

When you least expect it.

America, land

Where all the dreams come true

Sent 6 of its angels

To the pearl of the Caribbean

And build a Heaven

On earth

Never thought this day would come

Where I would see the root

Of change planted in my country’s grass

But I guess God had a plan for me that
I should live for the change

For the better

And for Haiti.

Stephann Dubois

Success.

August 6th, 2011

Today was amazing. We reached our goals and beyond. The colleges of Science, Law and Inaghei now have a wireless network.

Our team headed out at 6:30 am today and got back at 8:30 pm making for a very tired, sunburned and dirty but satisfied crew. I would like to thank all of the guys for their amazing work this week, Shivesh, Kshitij, Brian, Dan, Caleb, and Stephan, you were all amazing fellow students to work with and I couldn’t have asked for a better student team. Our group leaders, Achille, Lee, Chris and my Dad all did an awesome job keeping everything running smoothly and directing us in the best way possible. You have all been awesome and had such a good attitude, even after being crammed into a van every day and shipped around in the 90 degree heat, surviving storms, living off cliff bars, and being so bro. You guys are champs.

I think we all couldn’t have been happier when we saw the huge smiles and cheers of the students after we helped them connect to the new wireless network we had put in, and watch as they were blown away that they could get to web pages in only a few seconds. Many students expressed interest in what we were doing, especially at Inaghei, and asked us several time when it was going to be ready. Some students and a couple of staff even stayed at the college late so they could be the first ones to try out the new network. I am truly blessed to have been able to go on this trip and I would come back next week if I was allowed to.

 

Oh and a special HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHOUT OUT to Brian! Happy 21 dude!

 

More pictures soon to come. Bon Soir!

 

Nina

As The Week In Haiti Ends… (Lee)

August 6th, 2011

What a wonderful, frustrating, wonderful week. Despite a series of setbacks and challenges, our group has succesfully deployed wireless networking on three UEH campuses (“faculties” in French). We have also trained UEH support folks on how to get the most out of the exciting new resource we have provided on the campuses.

For a number of reasons, we had to change our designs and approach a number of times this week, and everyone from CIO Sedore to our great student team members rolled with it without complaint.

A crazy number of connections were made this week, from Achille meeting Haiti’s president to Peter meeting Won-G and his father to a rock thrown in protest meeting Dr. Hyacinthe’s truck. Haiti is full Of surprises.

The contributions made by our students on this trip cannot be overstated. This group was amazing, and pivotal to the success of this trip’s mission. Thank you all, for your assistance and company.

Getting IT Done!

August 6th, 2011

Today was a great day, I woke up at six and worked all day. No food, no breaks, just work. We completely set up the College of Law, College of Sciences and even Inaghei, (the third campus). It was great to see the students being able to connect to the wireless internet from there own laptops, and they were all very appreciative! Today was the day I had been waiting for because the faces of the students made it all worth while; my only regret is that I was not able to stay any longer. Perhaps in the future I will make it back to Haiti, it was an incredible experience to go to a new place and see a different way of life. A VERY different way of life. Stay tuned for more pictures and I will see you back on campus!

 

Achille Messac and President Martelly of Haiti

August 5th, 2011
Prof. Messac with the President of Haiti

Prof. Messac with the President of Haiti at the National Palace

This is the second recent trip from SU delegations to Haiti. This one involves strong participation from our students. This trip is turning out to be a great opportunity for me to get to know an SU group of students at a very personal level. I am truly proud of them. They are smart, kind-hearted, self-directed, and innovative; they improvise on the fly and create solutions. They are connecting very naturally with the people of Haiti; with all the tremendous similarities and differences. In the first rip, we laid the ground work for future involvement. It involved faculty and staff.

In this trip, we are doing science and engineering; and we are helping Haiti. Interestingly, this is a pretty good example of “Scholarship in Action”. Chief Information Officer Chris Sedore is leading the SU internet infrastructure development initiative for several campuses of the State University of Haiti. This is in addition to another initiative where Haitian students come to SU for their MS degrees in technical areas that will advance the development of Haiti. Chancellor Nancy Cantor is strongly supportive of this initiative.

Our visit coincided with the first 100 Day celebration of President Martelly’s presidency. I had the opportunity to discuss with him our SU initiative. He was strongly supportive and appreciative of our work. I also discussed our initiatives with his Prime Minister Designate and some of his top aides who were also very supportive and looked forward to further interactions.

I was born in Haiti, where I also grew up. I found it particularly gratifying to share some meaningful moments with our group of SU students and staff. Their probing and insightful questions and their camaraderie helped put the trip in a purely human context.

Achille Messac, PhD
Distinguished Professor and Chair
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

My Mother

August 5th, 2011

My Mother

Some call you Pearl of the Carribean

Quisqueya,

Haiti

Other who barely know you

Have the audacity to call you a country

But I called you mother

My mother

You give me birth 20 years ago

On this land I call “home”

where

The sun is smiling throughout

All the year

Where the grass have only one color

Green

Nowadays it seems like

You’re unknown to them

I remember when they used to

Come at your door

Begging for a smile

Now they act like they never

Knew you

Worse even met you

But don’t worry mother

I loved you

I’m still loving you

And I

Will always love you

I know this past

Few months you have been

Missing me like crazy

But

Be patient mother

I will be back soon

I’m trying to get the knowledge necessary

So when I come back to your knees

I can rebuilt your picture

But trust me Mother

You My only friend

The only who truly loves

I will not let any other men approach you

For I saw what they did to you in the

Past.

I know some of my brothers made you

Cry but yet

You still loved them

hoped for them

prayed for them

In brief you did everything you could do for them

they never

Realize what you did for them

Your sacrifices

My hope is to do the best

I can to see you

Smile again

Cause you are my mother

And your smile is what

Will convince me that

I accomplished my

Purpose on earth

Stephann Dubois

A Few Thoughts

August 5th, 2011

We have frustratingly been set behind again today by the threat of storm Emily, and were not able to go the colleges today as hoped. We  brought equipment back to the hotel to work on until we are all able to go back tomorrow. So, I thought I would talk today of some things that I have observed since I have been in Haiti.

The perception that I received of Haiti from the states has been very different from my actual experiences here. Obviously it is a very different type of culture and there are different foods, ways of dressing, and a different language. However most of the impressions I received before leaving were that Haiti was a hostile country, and that the people we would meet would not want us here. Stories of people being kidnapped or heckled have been blown up to appear as the forefront examples of how things exist in daily life. Although I knew all of these things I tried to keep an open mind when I came here. Everyone I have met are examples of quite the opposite of everything I have heard. The students from the University of Haiti were very friendly and excited to meet us and find out what we were doing. They have a ton of self respect and passion, they are all dressed nicely even in the 90 degree weather where I would wear shorts and a t-shirts, most of the students are wearing button downs and pants. I have felt under-dressed ever since I got here. The people of Haiti are not defeated by their circumstances but rather proud in their culture and land. I have so much respect for the country after having been here for only 6 days.

Also, when I came I was prepared for intolerable amount of heat, and flock of mosquitos. The weather has been really nice since we’ve been here, the temperature has been in the high 80′s and it has rained only twice. The country itself is so beautiful. I only wish that we could have traveled farther outside of PAP to see the less inhabited areas of the island. I was talking with Brian about how big the leaves are here, as many of them are larger than my body because they grow year round and aren’t hindered by winter months like NY is. My favorite edible that I’ve had since being here is the juice. Fresh juice. Real, fresh juice. I don’t think I will like our manufactured juice anymore when I get back to the states.

I truly hope that we can finish our work at the college tomorrow, as it is our last day. We were set back by customs and by the threat of storm Emily. However we have been doing all that we can to allow us to jump in and finish the physical work needed at the colleges. After talking with and befriending students at the colleges, I would be so upset if we let them down by not accomplishing what we told them we are here to do. This is more then a one time endeavor however, so whatever we can get done is a building base for our future relationship with the college. I am sad that tomorrow is our last day to work here. It has been such an amazing experience so far and I have learned so much, I would love to stay for a much longer time. Well I have to be up at the crack o’ dawn tomorrow so goodnight!

Nina

Eye in Emily

August 5th, 2011

Tropical storm Emily presented us with a red alert this morning. Luckily we were able to string most of the wires in The College of Law yesterday so that Lee and Chris were able to install the wireless routers without us today. The hotel is being boarded up with large sheets of wood, and I was surprised to see that the hotel staff had moved the furniture from me patio into my room. A letter of explanation and plan of action was left on my bed explaining what to do should we encounter high speed winds. The letter stated that should a hurricane occur we should not panic and to avoid the lobby area (which is large and open to the outside), also we should secure our belongings and remove all possible flying objects. I felt safe knowing that the hotel had warned all of the guests about the storm and had taken the appropriate precautions.

Haiti Project (Video Clip)

In preparation for tomorrow, many of the computer savvy students helped configure access points in the hotel since we were unable to travel due to the red alert today. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day. We have most of the wires set up in The College of Sciences and once we finish up there we must do a full installation at The College of Humanities a few minutes away. Hopefully Emily will have moved on by 6:30 am when we plan to leave tomorrow morning!

Brian Michaud

So long Emily!

August 4th, 2011

 

Emily hit the mountains and broke apart. It is now heading out to sea! Port au Prince barely got a few sprinkles. Good riddance!