17-Jan, Tuesday morning, hitting the road to Saint Marc after a couple of days preparing at the HC Resource Center (haiti.communitere.org). It feels good leaving Port au Prince and driving North to Saint Marc, stopping by at Guen’s place to greet his relatives and have a look at the motorcycles that we will have use of in a near future. This road in between sea and mountains is familiar from past HOT trips to Gonaives, and traveling it again brings back good memories. Leslie is driving, the radio plays loud, and the spirit is high. Five of us, Guens, Judith, Jacqueson, Samuel, and I, are starting the first phase of work in Saint Marc. We are heading to a place, Le Troquet, which will be our base of operations and will have a week to build a team of 30 youths out of 60 candidates from this territory designated by local authorities and communities at the request of OTI/HRI to take part in the project. Resumes have been scanned over the weekend by Guens and Marjorie and appointments were made with 4 groups of 15 each to hold during the week an interview and a hands on session on gps surveys and rough editing with JOSM. We are hoping that this will allow a fair selection process which will help create a mix of academics and a practical ability to learn. But we are looking to the future and are willing to remain true to the spirit of our work in Haiti: training and community building. To get this process started with all the 60 possible participants so that those willing to be part of the OSM project in Haiti can be. While also allowing those who could not be retained in the preliminary project to remain in touch and get experience through the mapping parties we are all planning to organize over the weekends.
19-Jan, Thursday morning, two days of formal interviews took place in the main pink room of this interesting multipurpose place, the Troquet (a restaurant/ bar/ dance hall/ theatre and soon a living lab). The silent and tensed atmosphere was interrupted at times by the falling of mangoes from the large trees which cover the location. Hands on sessions started: we are scattered in five small groups around our base busy with GPS when the rest of the team joined from Port Au Prince. Hands shake! The team for the project is now almost complete and we are set in Saint Marc. Our plan to use selection as an opportunity for training and initiating the grounding of a local OSM group in Saint Marc seems to be working, making choices both hard and easy at the same time. Hard because of the commitment and willingness expressed by all. Easy because we feel that the ones that we can not bring on this project, are already part of a community and it’s just a question of time for them to join and map. In parallel, we are busy creating the documentation and support training and mapping materials for the project as well as completing training of our group for ensuring the best readiness of the team in the next week. Brian is doing an amazing job catalyzing this and keeping up energy and motivation amongst all. Sleepless nights have been spent for a wealth of reasons like night mapping/training sessions as well as more expected social reasons... All looking forward to the weekend to complete our set up, thrilled at the news that access to the internet is secured and that hardware shall be delivered to us on Saturday.
Nicolas and Brian