My encounter with the University of Ghana YouthMappers and its journey so far
All too soon, it has been a year since I joined the University of Ghana YouthMappers (UGYM). Congratulations to me! I clearly remember that faithful day I was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt to join University of Ghana YouthMappers by Mr. Ebenezer Baidoo, the former chapter president. This occurred during one of the Geography and Resource Development Student Association week activities. I was fascinated by the extraordinary work UGYM were undertaking. I thought it wise to join because I love humanitarian work and the use of open source software to map areas and bring those areas to light globally. UGYM was the epitome of an opportunity for me to contribute to the development of Ghana and the world at large through mapping.
I still remember day I was introduced to OpenStreetMap (OSM); my mind was lost in the jungle! In other words, I could not comprehend how to use the OSM platform until I browsed to my community and mapped it. I was astonished to see my username indicated as one of the editors of the place. I can say unequivocally that ‘OSM is the tool for both local and global development’.
Having been selected to participate in the YouthMappers Leadership Fellowship Workshop in Pretoria, became one of the most memorable moments in my life serving as a student leader. YouthMappers gave me the opportunity to board an airplane for the first time. I had a feel of how an airplane takes off and lands for the first time. I was really scared when the airplane took off and the turbulence in the atmosphere.
Having fun with Jo, Gladys and Sabina (Left); Brainstorming on some of the building materials as a questionnaire in KoBo Collect App with Gladys, Laura, Sabina and Jo (Middle); Final group chat before departure at Bwelani Guest House (Right).
Moreover, I met wonderful and special people from other countries and spent a lovely week with them. For me, that one week felt like a year. I gained more experience on how to respect and relate well with others, involving women in decision-making and mapping, the use of OSM, the importance of validation, Chapter sustainability and visiting the Viva Foundation. We exchanged culture in the sense that, I taught them how to dance Gota and they taught me how to dance Salsa. These special people were the fellows, YouthMappers Staff, and University of Pretoria who organized the fellowship workshop. I also met a friend and whose name was Kenya, with a humble and lovely personality. I want to use this opportunity to say thanks for the exposure.
Finally, the profile of University of Ghana YouthMappers is worth mentioning. As I assume office as the president, the membership of UGYM has faced some challenges but I can confidently say it is stabilized. The membership has increased tremendously after my return from the YouthMappers Leadership Fellowship Workshop in Pretoria, South Africa. I learnt how to sustain a chapter after the knowledge gained at the workshop in Pretoria. The leadership of UGYM has organized numerous quality training sessions and a mapathon for members and Senior High School students. My administration is organizing ‘LetGirlsMap’ mapathons this year in order to bridge the gap between male and female mappers. UGYM is doing fantastically well and expect nothing but the best this year and beyond.
1st General Meeting Picture for Second Semester, University of Ghana
UGYM trained some Senior High School Students on OSM during 2018 GIS DAY (Left), Trained some of the members present on OSM. February, 2019 (Right).
In conclusion, YouthMappers has redefined my capacity to serve as an ambassador for change at the local and global level. As a mapping community, “we don’t just map but build mappers”. We seek to create a resilience environment in Ghana and the world at large through mapping. In this light, it is time we start mapping like never before.
UGYM Executives for 2018/2019 Academic Year
Michael Batame is a third-year student of the University of Ghana and president of the University of Ghana YouthMappers chapter. He describes himself an ambassador for YouthMappers and OSM. He loves to create and use maps to solve problems. As a humanitarian, he is always seeking solutions to problems. He is optimistic and believes in women's empowerment: “When girls map, a gap is closed!"