I'm a cheap date, all I want is a $12.50 phone, okay so I can't eat it and it might not be as tasty as a Burundi Royale with Cheese, but it might help calm things a bit here in Burundi. We've got 75 more phones to purchase for the Burundi election monitoring HROC is doing. Donate via AGLI/FPT, and designate the donation "HROC Burundi Phones." AGLI as part of FPT is a 501(c)3 US supporting partner of HROC Burundi.
Quick update on affairs here in the land of the great lakes (African Great Lakes that is), Burundi is nearing it's next election. HROC is preparing to finish it's training of it's 120 observers/citizen reporters/Peace & Democracy group members and hopefully we are going to distribute cellphones next week. The catch is that we could use some more cellphones. We have a goal of 75 cellphones worth in donations, and we'd like to get it distributed by next week. Although if we don't get it in time for the Presidental election, there's still 4 more elections in the coming months to go. (Yes months, not days, or weeks but months. It's a long run of elections).
Although we are distributing the cellphones, HROC still owns them and will be getting them back from the people. I've spent way to much time inventorying some oddball and wacky phones that have been donated. For the time it took, the dwindling percentage of phones due to wrong frequencies, the not unlockable phones, the bad batteries, and the ones missing chargers, as well as the hassle of a bunch of phones that aren't translated into french (or kurundi), and the cost of unlocking those not already unlocked, we probably should have just bought the cheap phones Leo is providing. At 15,000 Burundian Francs or about 12.5 dollars, it's hard to argue that spending 4-5,000 on unlocking plus the ones with missing batterys, bad batteries, and the time it takes to organize it, plus trying to teach new-to-phone users how to use a Sony phone that predates the Sony-Ericsson merge, a nokia sliding phone that took me an hour to find the sim slot on, some a random NEC, etc, etc, etc… you get my point.
Anyway, for two Mickey D meals, you could buy HROC a phone that will help us keep informed of what's happening on election day, help us keep our citizen reporters them informed, and help them coordinate in their own communities (as I partially explained in my previous post). Please donate a phone or two if you can spare a few dollars for keeping this far flung country a bit more peaceful.
Assuming we get enough phones, during the next two months they Citizen Reporters will be able to call the other 120 people for free, text them for free, text in to "Bureau HROC" our SMS information center, and generally become more engaged in the wider world. Via another portion of the budget we've already got the funding to place all the phones on a group plan which facilitates this (for 11,000 Burundian Francs per month per person! You try pricing a plan like that anywhere else in the world. Of course most burundian's don't have nearly 1/3 of that as disposable income per month.) This is an immediate project, but that has a long term vision of being used to help tie multiple communites in this war torn country together with each other. We have a few other programs in mind that involve cellphones, trama healing, income generation, and general community building. The more phones the better. Leveraging twitter like chatting within more distant communities to help dispell rumors and improve relationships, as well as slowly (due to the learning curve) introducing new options like information menus, health updates, gather useful statistical and market information, etc we hope to help bridge the gap in the few communites that HROC is able to work with.
It's a small difference to make, but it's one that HROC (and FWA) are good at making in the people they reach. More updates soon.
You can also donate to AGLI (and tell your friends) via the HROC Mobile Peace Building Facebook Cause