Last Thursday, after a long day of studying and report writing, I was invited by a friend to an MSF event happening at the library. I heard there was free pizza and as a student, I automatically said yes.
Prior to the invitation, I had never heard of MSF let alone the Missing Maps project. For those of you who don’t know, the Friends of MSF are a student run society and require students help as volunteer mappers to map remote parts of the world that are most vulnerable to crisis, whether that’s natural disasters, disease-related or due to conflict.
Maps are incredibly important. As a geologist I know the extent of how vital fieldwork is, as it is essential evidence to back up interpretations. Therefore to learn how to digitally map is a new skill altogether.
We were assigned to identify settlements in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. This will allow NGOs such as the Red Cross to establish population estimates so that then everyone knows exactly what supplies are needed and for how many people in the event of a crisis.
It was actually rather therapeutic drawing squares around buildings, probably a similar feeling for those who enjoy colouring. It was really satisfying knowing that our fun was actually going to be useful and beneficial to others.
I’ve since joined the society and will now become a regular mapper. No matter how busy you may be, there is always time for fun volunteering.