Mapper since: June 19, 2017

My YouthMapper Experience I have always admired secretaries. I love the fact that they are reliable, smart and efficient. Or maybe its the notepad that has everything that’s important. Being a United Nations Secretary General is a dream I nurse. When our team staff coordinator shared mapping on OpenStreetMap with me, I was fascinated that I could contribute to world geo spatial database. Even more when he told me of his desire to set up a Youthmaapers team here and the best part was, he wanted me to be the secretary. I was beyond myself. I told friends and anyone who cared to listen. I imagined how much fun being team secretary would be, little idea of the work.

Between classes, we held meetings at our staff coordinator’s office, planning Mapathons trainings, awareness strategies and drafting letters. We spent hours working. My friends complained, my non existent social life was crashing. My course mates saw me as an evangelist, my message,’’ register on OpenSreetMap and map the world!’’ They all wanted to find out more from me, including the big guys and girls. They all wanted to know how. When I became aware of the LetGirlsMap campaign and was asked to spread the word, it became funnier, the guys complained of gender discrimination, why would there be a campaign for girls to map and none for guys?

I talked to people outside my department about the team. Somehow each day, I gained more confidence and spoke to more people. When I talked about map, most people concluded it was a geography thing and became less interested. My team coordinator taught me a different approach; a map is universal, everybody uses maps, I just had to convince them of how a map is useful to their discipline. But it was far from easy. I couldn’t even see how maps are useful in Philosophy or even Biochemistry then. This worked to an extent, more people listened. I also learnt how to appeal to their humanity. I talked about mapping so vulnerable communities can easily get help in events of a disaster. Certainly more people wanted to know how this was possible. Many found it exciting that you could edit a satellite image and add your residential location.

When my team got approved by YouthMappers Netwiork, the single most important part of the mail was the part where I am the secretary. I had gone international! I was joyous. I thought our work was done but it had just begun. We spent more hours campaigning. We needed to be approved by the University. We participated in international Mapathons and the Stall catcher’s Catchathon. We also organized our own Mapathons and had a great week to celebrate geography.

It makes me proud to know I can contribute to world knowledge from the comfort of my residence. I feel like a world class secretary already. My friends understand now, they are registered on OpenStreetMap and members of my team. Mapping is great, being a Youthmapper is AWESOME.