Little do people know that much of the developing world is actually unmapped. Many remote areas which are in need of humanitarian aid are not on any official map, but rather are only visible from aerial satellite imagery which fails to actually identify buildings and roads which must be located for aid to reach them.
That’s when I started ‘Online Mapping’ for the mapping website, ‘OpenStreetMap’, where using satellite imagery, I have been able to identify where houses, major roads and communities are based. This enables the location of vulnerable communities and the transfer of their location to a physical map. By doing so, humanitarian aid organisations like the Red Cross and Amnesty International are able to reach these areas and provide aid to those who most need it.
Natural disasters like in Haiti 2010, where the earthquake destroyed much of the capital, Port au Prince, demonstrated the need for people to continually map out destroyed or unknown areas, in order to mitigate the tragic consequences. In light of the Coronavirus Pandemic, locating communities in need of medical aid has become an increasing necessity and highlights the importance for more people to get involved and start online mapping.
Moreover, my studies of Geography A level encouraged me to play a part in breaking the cycle of poverty (on a small-scale), and I decided to undertake the role of Web Developer and Social Media Officer for the Non-Governmental Organisation ‘Children of Cameroon’. ‘Children of Cameroon’ promotes the sponsorship of Children who live below the poverty line and who have been displaced so that they can receive sufficient funding to gain access to the bare necessities of shelter, food, water, education and healthcare.
Unfortunately, due to the civil war in Cameroon, known as the ‘Anglophone Crisis’, many children have been separated from their parents, or have fled their villages due to the conflict and have become homeless. In many cases this can happen to children as young as 4 years old, who are too young to fully comprehend the situation, let alone fend for themselves. It is incredibly rewarding whenever one of the children is sponsored and sends us videos and letters outlining how the sponsorship has benefited them.
I believe the voluntary work I have done demonstrates that it is always possible, even during a global pandemic, to make a difference to people’s lives all over the world, all from the comfort of your own home.
By Sophie Cohen, student