Mission 4636 was a Haitian initiative that came together following the 2010 earthquake near Port-au-Prince. From 50 countries worldwide, we provided an online translation and information processing service that connected the Haitian people with each other and with the international aid efforts.
The main way that we connected with people within Haiti was by phone and text messaging, either directly or by a free phone number ‘4636’. After the earthquake, many cell-towers radio stations kept working, so we stayed connected to each other even when the government itself had effectively collapsed. We also used local radio to share information within the country and to advertise the 4636 number.
We worked directly with the relief workers on the ground in Haiti. Because many people coming into Haiti to help could not speak Haitian Kreyol, we translated communications between Kreyol and English, and helped the international emergency responders locate places that were not on any map.
Via one of the international managers in San Francisco we were also connected to the US Coast Guard. They carried out many medical evacuations based on the information that we provided and we know that many lives that were saved this way. Haiti has never had a ‘911’ service like in the USA, but for a short time we were as close as Haiti has ever had. When people in Grand Goave needed medical assistance, a message translated and mapped by a graphic designer in Montreal, Canada meant that two people were saved. For an emergency child delivery in Port-au-Prince, a special effects artist in Amsterdam made the crucial translation that allowed the Coast Guard to send a response. For tens of thousands of people in make-shift settlements outside of Port-au-Prince, the communications to Mission 4636 were often their only means of contacting the international response community. We confirmed their reports and translating into English from across the world.
The most help that people received in Haiti was from other Haitians, so it is fitting that the most help that they received from outside Haiti was also from overseas Haitians. From so far away, it was the least we could do to help those in need. We are also very thankful for all the support we received from our international friends. When we received money to support Mission 4636, we decided to send this back to Haiti, too. We created jobs for 50 people in Mirebalais who took over the volunteer work. They continued to translate between the Haitain population and the English-speaking international aid workers. Their new jobs supported themselves and their families when they needed it most.
A detailed report about Mission 4636 can be found at
and some of the workers who got jobs in Mirebalais can be seen in this video:
Thank you to everyone who has helped us build back Haiti.