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Jan 26 & 29: from Port au Prince, Haiti - Kingston, Jamaica - Butare, Rwanda - Nicaragua - Bas Me Limbe, Haiti

From our correspondents around the world... 

Mobile phones became lifelines for people in the weeks following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and they would charge them at charging stations like this one in Port-au-Prince. The Red Cross' TERA text-messaging service,developed in the aftermath of the quake. (Photo/ REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

From the Haitian earthquake rises new thinking about technology that will save lives around the world.

A political paradox in Jamaica. The country's about to celebrate independence though most voters say it's failed them.

Something is killing the cane-cutters of central America: a mysterious new kind of kidney disease found nowhere else.

And from the archives; spying on free speech. How Rwanda tries to suppress the legacy of genocide.


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Emergency Aid 4 U by SMS

Two years after an earthquake claimed more than 300,000 people, Haiti remains a disaster-in-progress, plagued by disease, homelessness and hurricanes.

But it has also led to new tech applications that are saving lives.

Some of it was used to map and rescue trapped survivors. Others helped reunite scattered families, and organise volunteer efforts.

But one of the most successful is the one they call the Trilogy Emergency Relief Application (TERA), developed by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. 
Using the country's cellphone system, they're texting health warnings and other alerts on the Short Message System, the SMS.  And it may be the template for a global early warning system.  

Sharon Reader runs the TERA system in Haiti and she joined Rick from Port-au-Prince to explain.  

Rick's interview with Sharon

Traditional Haitian music played by local singers and musicians with handmade percussion and string bass instruments in the village Bas Me Limbe .This was taken with a flash in total darkness. Photo: Eric Doubt.

Listener Soundtrack: Haiti

Haiti is also the source of our Soundtrax feature this week.  Last November, Dispatches listener Eric Doubt of Georgetown, Ontario recorded the music  in person on his iPhone: an outdoor jam on pots and other homemade instruments at a remote beach in the north.

Eric's letter and music

If you've got a memory full of music from a faraway place, email your Soundtrax story to dispatches@cbc.ca.

You can read other letters from listeners at Your Dispatches, too. 

Jamaica's golden anniversary - and a republican future?

Jamaica celebrates 50  years of independence this year.  But the government says it wants to go further and it's calling for a complete break with Britain.  

Right now, it's a "commonwealth realm," like Canada, with the Queen as its monarch and head of state.

But Jamaica's plans to re-invent itself as a republic, come as surveys show most people aren't enjoying independence, and wish their country had  remained a colony. 

Bit of a patriotic paradox really.  One that's weighing on the anniversary preparations, as Dispatches contributor Nick Davis discovered after dropping in on a musician who's marking it with music.  

Nick's dispatch

Sugarcane workers board buses at dawn, to work for labour contractors at the Nicaraguan plantation Ingenio San Antonio. The buses return the workers home a full 12 hours later (photo: Kate Sheehy & Sasha Chavkin/ICIJ)

Cutting sugarcane, falling ill

Medical research has uncovered what some are calling a new epidemic in Central America.

It's confined to the Pacific coast of Central America, where in the past few years, nearly  3,000 young men have died from an unusual form of chronic kidney disease.

The condition is not unusual, but the cause is a mystery according to Sasha Chavkin.  

He's a journalist who's written for Mother Jones and The Nation.  And he investigated this medical phenomenon for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. He joined Rick from New York City.

Rick's conversation with Sasha

Burma emerges

So the recent and remarkable political thaw in Burma, also known as Myanmar, is getting attention around the world -- including India, where it was up for discussion at the the largest literary festival in the Asia-Pacific region, the annual Jaipur Literature Festival.

The recent release of hundreds of political prisoners has prompted the US to restore diplomatic relations with the former military regime. 

Speaking in Jaipur, the noted author and historian Dr. Thant Myint-U predicted the Burmese president will further relax the adminstration's grip on the country, which only recently emerged from nearly fifty years of military rule. 

We apologise: the sound quality is hardly intriguing, but his comments are.

An excerpt from Thant Myint-U's remarks

The festival by the way, was to close by debating the question, "This house believes than man has replaced God."  

Which assumed an unintended irony when a religious protest forced it to cancel an appearance by Salman Rushdie, whose book, The Satanic Verses upsets many Muslims. 

 Rwanda's whispers in the hall

Anastase Gahunga (with interpreter Didier Bikorimana) narrowly survived the genocide.  He says reconciliation between Hutu and Tutsi is needed but hard to achieve, even when mandated.  Photo/Dave Kattenberg

Rwanda's been having a complicated time marking the anniversary of the genocide that claimed the lives of an estimated 800,000 Rwandans, most of Tutsi ethnicity, killed by the rival Hutus.

There's a government-imposed policy of national harmony, which discourages any talk about ethnicity.

Many buy into it for fear of being accused of clinging to a "genocide ideology."

Last spring, Dispatches contributor David Kattenburg went to the one place he expected to find the events of the past open to study and analysis.

Instead, he found what he describes as "spirits in the forest, and whispers in the hall."

Dave's documentary

This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann, Steve McNally and intern Amanda Kwan. With technical producer Victor Johnston. Our senior producer is Alan Guettel.

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