Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Public Service Announcements

One of the things I think Haiti does really well is Public Service Announcements. When schools are going to be closed or the "city is hot," meaning there are riots, everyone seems to know about it... and fast. The radio and television stations are utilized to make these PSAs, but also cell phone networks play a big role.

It may be hard to believe, but most Haitians have a cell phone. Not everyone has electricity and even fewer people (in my limited knowledge/humble opinion) have running water, but it seems that nearly everyone has a cell phone. And if they don't, someone who lives next door does. The Haitian cell phone market has some pretty cheap phones available, and the cost of one text message or talking for one minute is very cheap. Receiving texts and calls is always free, on any carrier in Haiti, so you never worry about using all your minutes when you answer a call.

Anyway, back to these PSAs I was telling you about. The government especially is good about sending out PSAs as text messages. During the election year I got about a million and one election related messages and automated phone calls each week. It was ridiculous. Now, I regularly get messages from KwaWouj (Red Cross), IBESR (something to do with kids, I know adoptive families have to send paperwork there), LISSA (the lottery), and several other organizations.

Most recently I've received messages from the Red Cross telling about a vaccination for kids under age two and how to get information on AIDS (a big problem here). I really appreciate that the Red Cross and other organizations utilize this form of communication to get info to the masses.

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