Friday, May 23, 2014

Meeting from Afar, Now and in the Future

Had a nice event at the orphanage today.

One of the students used Skype on her laptop to connect with her mother's 5th grade class in New York. The elementary school children had just completed a section on Haiti and now had the chance to connect with, and ask questions of, the children of Zanmi Beni. (See first  2 photos below)

At a briefing we had earlier today at the US Embassy, we were told that approximately 20% of Haitians had some access to the internet and here at Zanmi Beni Orphanage, they have a wireless router (that I'm currently using to upload this blog post) which provides slow but steady internet access.

Unfortunately, while it's fast enough to surf the net and watch some videos, it's not fast enough to allow for real-time bidirectional video-conferencing. The images on today's skype session were jumpy and out of focus. Good enough for the children to see pictures of one another and talk to each other, but not good enough to provide educational programs or telemedicine consultations.

As part of a Google Grant to the NC Children's Hospital, we brought a new iPad with us to present to the staff at Zanmi Beni with plans to use it for future telemedicine consultations. Their current bandwidth won't allow for this, at least not yet.

We still gave them the iPad, along with instructions for its use, and told them that we hope the future will bring faster internet connections that will allow us to videoconference with each other.

Tomorrow, we'll visit their hospital in Mirebalais (which already uses telemedicine in its daily practice ) then have a pizza party to finish off our last night here in Haiti.

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