Day 1 Training at AcdiVoca Headquarters


Today we trained around 20 AcdiVoca staffers ranging from senior staffers to agronomists to data entry personnel to doctors. It was quite an experience.  The morning session was done in English but the afternoon session was done in French and Creole.  Alex and I shared the French explanations and Eldivert Savoit did most of the heavy lifting in Creole.

Training Acdi/Voca staff at Headquarters in Jacmel.

Training Acdi/Voca staff at Headquarters in Jacmel.

We were supposed to start at 10:00 AM, but we didn’t arrive at the headquarters until close to 8:30.  That left us only an hour and a half to get the phones initialized and to test the system — clearly not enough time. (We thought we were going to do that yesterday afternoon or last evening.)   Our challenge was compounded by the fact that the room we were presenting in had very poor cell phone reception.  We worked furiously to get the phones set up.  That entailed putting SIM cards in the phones, initializing the SIM cards, installing the application, making sure the app’s database was wiped clean.

Given that we didn’t have time to install our own modem, we first tried using my Google Voice account to receive the SMS messages.  That worked intermittently and then only in other parts of the building (or so it seemed).  So 10:00 AM came and we were still scrambling to get the system ready for the hands-on training.   Finally around 10:30 we had enough phones working and we did a quick “trial run” of the training.  That worked fairly well.  So we started the session.

I think most of the attendees (except for Emmet) were fairly skeptical of this whole idea.  But after they saw how the system worked they seemed to warm up a bit.  By the end of the session they were debating some of the features among themselves — e.g., should the land units be in square meters or carreau and should the phone user have to enter the date of the first food distribution for a beneficiary.   Lots of interesting discussions and back and forth. We ended up with a list of around 15 or so items that we will eventually revise — mostly small things like translations but a couple of substantial changes, only some of which we will be able to do while we’re here.

One of the things we discovered during the AM session was that using the Google voice account was not reliable so we switched to a local number.  That improved things a lot, although most messages we sent from inside the room were tagged as “pending” meaning the phone was unable to send them due to lack of service.  We were able to send these from the patio during lunch.

The PM session involved 13 doctors, nurses, data entry staffers, and agronomists, some of whom had traveled from 4-5 hours away and were spending the night in Jacmel.  I did a brief overview of HFOSS in French. Alex did some introductions.  We then showed the screen cast videos that the HFOSS students made on Monday, which were translated into Creole by my Haitian colleague, Prof. Leslie Desmangles.  They came out terrific!

We then talked Eldivert into starting off the training by showing them how to use the device.  He seemed to enjoy it so he continued on to show them how the app works.  It went pretty well. And the app performed pretty well, despite the poor service within the room.

Trishan spent most of the day hassling with trying to get the modem/server set up.  There seems to be a problem with Digicel’s compatibility with the modem.  We’re still working on it.  Tomorrow 30 auxiliary nurses arrive for all-day training in Creole.

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