User:Mchua/Braindumps/Health intro letter

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Note: Please use this as a template and customize it to whoever you're sending it to - you know them better than I do! Mchua

Dear name,

Hope you're doing well. I've been doing some work with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC - and found something you might be interested in - a health initiative. We're beginning to build some serious momentum, and are looking for people who can help us take our ongoing development projects to the next level and connect them with communities, health workers and researchers, and engineers who want to work together to form and link grassroots health infrastructures. See for more information, but in a nutshell:

""We are an interdisciplinary group working on medical-related projects associated with the XO, including software, hardware, and content. Health projects can be a local grassroots undertaking, a student group project, a pilot implementation, a global community creation-sprint weekend - we cut across geographic, disciplinary, and institutional boundaries to help all health-related OLPC work move forward. We're always interested in hearing from, talking with, and collaborating with others with similar interests. No particular experience is required - just a passion for OLPC and the medical field and a willingness to learn. We're all constantly learning from and teaching each other.

The OLPC project is an important and innovative initiative in the area of education. In large part this is because the project is so much more than just a new gadget; rather it is grounded in sound philosophy and theory, and presents a vision for a radical transformation of access to education predicated upon three basic tenets:

  1. Learning and high-quality education for all is essential to provide a fair, equitable, economically and socially viable society;
  2. Access to mobile laptops on a sufficient scale provide real benefits for learning and dramatic improvement of education on a national scale;
  3. So long as computers remain unnecessarily expensive such potential gains remain a privilege for a select few.

Health initiatives must be similarly grounded, and direct analogues to these tenets can be drawn from, and adapted for, the health care field. Further, health challenges are fundamental barriers to education; one cannot take part in learning or teaching efforts while struggling to have basic needs met, while sick or injured. It is also easy to imagine that XOs, even while distributed under the auspices of an educational program, will be used by children and families to tackle whatever problems they may be dealing with in their lives and communities. This means that whether or not thought is put into it, kids with XOs, and their families, are going to try to use them in the event of a medical calamity or accident.

In the absence of community health infrastructure, this will mean reaching out to whomever they have access, be it peers or educational staff, the internet at large, fact or fiction, strangers, etc... At the very least, educational staff taking part in a community XO initiative need to consider involving social workers and folks able to provide referral to whatever health resources do exist. Our health initiatives must be about how we can support health promotion and public health efforts in resource-poor settings. The model put forward by OLPC suggests that this can be facilitated with ready access to these technologies, coupled with technical and social infrastructure development.

  1. Good health and high-quality health care for all is essential to provide a fair, equitable, economically and socially viable society.
  2. Access to mobile laptops on a sufficient scale can provide real benefits for health care, and could dramatically improve the quality and quantity of life for the most underprivileged.
  3. Health initiatives must value local knowledge and expertise, while making free and ready access to an international wealth of health learning and evidence-based medical knowledge.
  4. The initiatives, like the rest of the OLPC project, must incorporate a collaborative approach into every aspect of their implementation.
  5. Children, youth and family members in affected communities must be viewed as potential experts, as self-healers, as self-directed learners, and OLPC health initiatives must increase direct involvement in healthy living rather than increase dependencies on outside support.
  6. OLPC's approach to education in the community should be mirrored by a "care in the community" approach which seeks to value community members who are already serving in caring and supportive roles (community leaders, teachers, health workers, mothers, elders, etc...), build their capacity, and support them with infrastructural development and integration with networks of more advanced resources.
  7. "OLPC is not, at heart, a technology program." (It is an education program.) As with education, local health projects incorporating XOs will need to pay great attention to infrastructure by addressing long-term concerns and sustainability. Locally based institutional structures should be supported rather than forming dependencies on outside agencies, and these efforts are made in parallel to, rather than instead of, traditional community infrastructure development which must continue."

Personally, I've been involved in the OLPC Health effort by list your projects and contributions here, and links to find out more about them.

I think you'd have a great time meeting some of the people involved, and would be a great collaborator/advisor/resource/role-you-envision-them-having - what do you think? If you're interested in what we are doing, most of our discussions take place on the Library mailing list (, and the best way to join the conversation is to join the list and introduce yourself. For chat via IRC you can find us at #olpc-health on freenode - more information at

If you're interested, I'd love to talk with you about this, either as a one-time thing for gathering feedback and advice or as a conversation exploring the kinds of things you and your organization could do in collaboration with OLPC. Let me know.