"4636" Success Stories from Haiti

Erik Hersman
Jan 20, 2010

In Haiti? Text 4636 on Digicel or Comcel with your location and need. Report emergencies and missing persons.

The work that Ushahidi, InSTEDD and Reuters are doing in the digital space can seem a little distant from what's happening in Haiti. However, we're working closely with response organizations in Haiti to make sure that there is action being taken on the emergencies/needs that are reported into the system. Groups like FEMA, the US Coast Guard task force, the ICRC and Plan Int'l (amongst others) are all using it. Here are some of the success stories from 4636 so far, thanks to Rob Munro, who has been coordinating most of the volunteer activities around the 4636 project. Also a big thank you to individuals like Rachelle Houde who are combing twitter reports, blogs, organization websites for updates and coming back to leave comments. 1) People being able to get through to relatives overseas and let them know they are ok for the first time:

"peter mwen pale avek minouche yo bien 1 317xxxxxxx" (Peter, I am talking with Minouche. All are well. 1 317xxxxxx)

  1. Reports of emergencies are going straight back to the orgs on the ground, translated and with geocoords where possible - people in Haiti were responding to this one this morning (19 jan) within 10 minutes of us receiving it:

"Men se Jean Wani�re m,ap travay lan Unic�f mwen abite kafouf�y ri bredi nimero 11 alentery� mwe gen 2 moun ki anba kay la toujou ?" (My name is Jean Wani my brother is working in Unicef and I live in Carfour 11 Alentyerye I have 2 people that is still alive under the building still ! Send Help!)

  1. From people in Haiti volunteering to help (they have been put in touch with local aid efforts)

"Please, call or write us if you need more information or if you need our help like beeing translators, food distributors or any services else from us."

"le 3xxx.xxxx.xx nou se yon group j�n ki rete zon nan nou pre pou nou bay s�vis men nou pa gen nan men nou" (3xxx.xxx.x.xx We are a group of young people who live in the area and we are ready to help, but we have nothing)

  1. People sharing local information about aid centers:

"Rue Casseus no 9 gen yon sant kap bay swen ak moun ki blese e moun ki brile" (Street Casseus no 9, there is a center that helps people that are wounded or burnt)

  1. From across the world volunteers are helping to translate the messages (including all the ones above - mostly the Haitian diaspora):

"I am holding up better nowadays because I am able to talk to most of my relatives, and also because I feel like I'm really helping." "No matter what it is so much better than sitting here feeling helpless."

There are more, many more, but we're not able to track them all as we're in the midst of this. Thanks to those who have helped track these for us.

From http://haiti.ushahidi.com

People looking for success stories on http://haiti.ushahidi.com can find them here: http://haiti.ushahidi.com/reports/view/761 http://haiti.ushahidi.com/reports/view/58 http://haiti.ushahidi.com/reports/view/606 http://haiti.ushahidi.com/reports/view/642 http://haiti.ushahidi.com/reports/view/580 http://haiti.ushahidi.com/reports/view/389 http://haiti.ushahidi.com/reports/view/1070 http://haiti.ushahidi.com/reports/view/474

The Translators

There have been a lot of heroic efforts over the last week by everyone involved with the Haiti response. One of these groups is the translators who are doing near real-time translation of incoming SMS messages into 4636. Here's one example taken from the translation chat room (Jennifer is one of the people translating 4636 messages - has great local knowledge):

(18:27:24) (Jennifer): This is from the clinic that my friend is operating in on the ground: just received an email to put the diesel need on a map at http://haiti.ushahidi.com/main Then I got a call from Hal Newman to see if the need was legit. He is an emergency manager supporting the Haiti response. He just sent the deisel request to Marcie Roth, the senior FEMA advisor, who will contact the State Department. They will contact the military and the diesel should be on its way. (18:27:41) (Jennifer): They were desperate for fuel yesterday. (18:28:16) (Jennifer): and very grateful for the fast response they got back once entering their clinic location and need on the map.