Archive for July, 2011

HFOSS builds Android app to assist humanitarian organization in Haiti

POSIT-Haiti from Humanitarian FOSS Project on Vimeo.

In July a team of HFOSS faculty and students from Trinity College traveled to Haiti to deploy POSIT-Haiti, the Android application they developed for ACDI/VOCA,  a humanitarian organization providing food and health services for expectant mothers and infant children in Haiti.

The app, which runs on Motorola XPRT smart phones, supports beneficiary registration and helps process monthly food distribution events for more than 10,000 beneficiaries in Haiti’s Southeastern Department.

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Internationalization and Localization of POSIT Haiti

A peak into localization by Chris N. who worked on the POSIT-Haiti code base:

Being able to display the app in multiple languages was essential for the project, due to the developers being native English speakers and the end users speaking French and Haitian Creole. I localized the mobile side of the app. There are hundreds of strings that appear in the display of the app, each of which needed to be internationalized and then localized. After the strings were translated and organized into xml files, they were then tested. A number of bugs appeared as a result of being able to change the language. Multiple strings needed to be abstracted out of the code. In addition, menu and dialog boxes needed to be reinitialized so that the newly changed language would display properly.

There was a great deal of difficulty keeping the character encoding consistent between Linux and Apple machines, which use different codes for special characters (such as the é character). This coding issue made it difficult to create non-conflicting translation patches that can work on both Linux and Macintosh computers. In addition, the patches often had to be tested for conflicts before being applied to the most recent repositories, due to the localization process’s nature of touching all the files in the app. It also became necessary to abstract the options end users select in data entry forms from the strings those forms store in the database, since otherwise the data queries would not be able to identify data submitted in one language and retrieved in another.

The localization process was difficult, but enjoyable. Users are able to toggle the display language between English, French, and Haitian Creole without exiting the app. Furthermore, the app is set up so that additional languages can be implemented quickly and easily.

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On the road…

On 4th of July we were on the road traveling to various locations in rural Haiti.   Alex and Rachel headed out first to Cotes-de-Fer where they eventually met up with Abdul and Roseval.  There was no distribution event scheduled for Cotes-de-Fer, so they’ll be registering new health beneficiaries.

departments_of_haiti_map

Acdi/Voca operates in the Southeastern Department (Sud Est)

Trishan, Tina, and Sheena headed to Grand Grosier where they met up with Peggy and Jiminor.  They had the longest drive.  They followed our car, with Emmet and me, to Belle Anse and then continued on for another two hours or so beyond that, maybe 6 or 7 total hours on the road.  They have a distribution event tomorrow and will also be registering beneficiaries.

Emmet and I met Fernel and  Dr. ____ in Belle Anse.  Tomorrow we’ll travel to Mabriole for a distribution event.  And on Wednesday we’ll travel to Baie d’Orange for another distribution event.  These are expected to be large events with several hundred beneficiaries at each site.

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Fourth of July Weekend in Jacmel

Grog moi, ti cigarette moi...

Grog moi, ti cigarette moi...

Tomorrow, Monday, the 4th of July,  we’ll be splitting into three teams and traveling to remote parts of the Southeast Department.  But over the weekend we kicked back and headed to the beach.

The beach was nice and sandy. The water was warm. And we all had a swim.  Emmet brought his guitars and song sheets and he and Tina sang some duets and got the rest of the beach singing along — including some of the locals.

At first the local musicians just watched and listened.  But Emmet played a familiar local song and that was their cue to join in.  They started playing along.

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At the Voodoo Ceremony

The first couple of nights at the hotel I was wondering what all the loud drumming and strange chanting was.  I asked Meliu, our driver, about it.  He said it was a Voodoo ceremony with around 1000 participants, including himself.  I think he probably overestimated the attendance, but it sounded like a 1000 during the night.

The ceremony was being held in a vacant lot right next the the house neighboring the hotel compound.  Emmet not only knew the owner of the house, but one of the Acdi/Voca staff members, Anna, lives in the house.   Emmet was able to get us an invitation from the host — in his three years in Haiti Emmet had never been to a ceremony.   We were warmly welcomed by the host and he rounded up chairs for us right up front.  The ceremony was dedicated to the host’s father who was recently killed in a car accident.  The goal of the ceremony was to cast away the spirits who had caused the family’s tragedy.

Front row at the Voodoo ceremony.

Front row at the Voodoo ceremony.

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Auxiliary Nurse Training

Training day!  We all met up at a cute/sweltering hot meeting center a few miles away from the hotel.  Over the course of the day we showed~40 auxiliary nurses how to use the app. They speak little to no English, but luckily we had some worldly coworkers along to help us:  Sheena speaks Haitian Creole and Alex speaks French, both of which are common languages in Haiti.   Eldivert, the tech guy from Acdivoca and mastermind of TBS, their current data storage system, helped to lead the training session.

A thoughtful Morelli looking over the shoulders of the auxiliary nurses

A thoughtful Morelli looking over the shoulders of the auxiliary nurses

Though many people in Haiti know how to use basic cell phones, most of the nurses had no experience using a touchscreen or a smart phone.  We went through basic smart phone 101 (turning it on and off, using the touchscreen, menu/home/back buttons) and then moved into how to use the app (all the while standing as close to the AC unit as possible). After picking up the basic features of a smart phone, most of the nurses seem to catch on very quickly.
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