unlikely power source for charging a mobile phone

News and Events 1422 Hits > 2010-01-27 13:29:28

Food and water are still frighteningly scarce in Port au Prince two weeks after the earthquake, but at least one precious commodity is relatively easy to find: a charge for your cell phone. All over this shattered city, on rickety tables at the entrances to refugee camps and on rubble-strewn sidewalks, you can find enterprising hustlers who have hooked up power strips to car batteries. For about 40 cents, they'll sell you a recharge for your mobile.

It's a crucial service in a city where both the electric grid and most landlines are still out of commission. Astonishingly, the cellular network was back up, to a limited extent, within two days of the quake. Data-heavy voice calls are still unreliable, but text messages get through without trouble. That's why there's been such a torrential stream of Tweets out of Haiti. And in-country, mobiles are a lifeline for passing around information on where to find hospitals, food, and family members.

Photo by Vince Beiser

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