Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti: Can You Hear Me Now?

It's Wednesday, January 20, a week and a day since the earthquake in Haiti. Amazingly, people are still being found under the rubble of buildings alive. Aid is starting to get around to the people. Looting is happening without a doubt, some born of desperation, some born of greed and power, but does not seem out of control. Things are sort of stable, sort of slogging along. As help gets out, people will get less desperate. However, everything is hard. Moving is hard, through the rubble, cars and people. Communicating is hard due to the cell towers, land lines and phone lines being down. One may think this to be small compared to the need for food, drink and shelter, but we humans are social connected creatures, and I think--no, I know--we go slightly bonkers if we cannot communicate well. Also think of all the practical aspects. For example, I have read of a Haitian nursing home that is in a neighborhood populated by rough characters. The old people, outside, are surrounded by a hoard of unsavory characters, who are not just a threat to them, but hid them, until recently, from help and goods. Thankfully, someone thought to look in on them, or maybe was drawn by a text or tweet. But the NH folks could not just pick up a phone and call someone and say, "Hi, we could use some water, food, medicine and armed police down here." Part of the problem is that the government of Haiti runs/ran the phone system, instead of having a private company, whether home grown, or a branch of Verizon/AT&T/Sprint; my guess is that a private enterprise would do a better job. I would also wager that the system would be working better now with portable towers up, and repairs in progress under a private system. I hope that the Haitian government gives permission for private phone companies to help them get the system back up and rebuilt. In the meantime, like everything else, folks improvise and make do.

Can you hear me now? Now? How about now? (in Port-au-Prince)
A person with access to electricity creates a pay charge station for cell phones in Port-au-Prince. Epically great kludge!
This working land line near a destroyed church in Leogane became an impromptu pay phone.

Photos from Time magazine gallery "Haiti's Lines of Communication"


Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
I saw this kludge picture and loved it! Totally capitalist opportunism, to supply a need and agree to be the point person.

This is actually one of the more hopeful posts I have seen. Thanks for writing it and finding the two other pictures that show Haitians getting on their feet.

Ann T.

the observer said...

Ann T

Thanks for reading. Although I love the kludge pic, it's the first one that caught my eye. Until recently (Verizon must have worked on the towers near my house), I had to do the signal shuffle in parts of my own home.

The Observer