This week we had some training on the new ‘raspberry pie’ computers recently delivered to the Religious of Jesus and Mary school in Colette, by 2 technicians from an organisation called Camara from Port-au-Prince.
To me it seemed like we had visited Connemara in the west of Ireland about a hundred years ago, although the countryside in Colette is probably not as barren as Connemara. It was green, as far as the eye could see with hills and low mountains in the near-distance.
The school itself was up a narrow dirt track from the main road and you had to look very specifically to identify where people lived as the houses were not very visible on first inspection.
But on the second day I began to identify where exactly the homes were; many of them were hiding (as it were) under their ‘thatched’ roofs made from local trees. They are very tiny and from the outside look like they only have enough space for one room – but it is shelter from the sweltering sun and the rains when they come!
Without realising it, the Haitian method of building homes is ecologically friendly; they simply blend in with the landscape.
So all of a sudden it seemed, from out of nowhere – to a land without widespread electricity or water supplies – came 15 new computers where the teachers would learn the fundamentals of computers and then impart their learning and experience to the children in the local school.
It was so new, so revolutionary and it created a stir in the area. The teachers were excited to learn what these new inventions could do for them and to see how they would transform their lives as they grappled with the rudiments of the latest computer technology.
Outside, life carried on as normal, the cocks crew, people with donkeys made their way into the town to stock up on supplies and the goats went about their business grazing in the fields. I thought of Connemara and the difference technology would have made to the Gealtacht areas had they arrived 100 years ago.
In 2016 it’s interesting to be present in this moment and ponder how technology, we in the West now take for granted, will impact the lives of the Haitians of Colette and the potential for development and improvement they will bring to the area.