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How OpenStreetMap changed my worldview

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Five years ago, Morish Awania took up a new role as a security guard in Kampala, Uganda after missing out on an opportunity to complete his high school education due to financial constraints. Then, Morish joined the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT Uganda)* as a security guard two years ago where he developed an interest in OSM as he watched his colleagues taking part in mapping activities. This marked the beginning of a new and uncharted career path for Morish.

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Photo of Morish Awania

“OSM has been a wonderful platform for learning and connecting with friends from all over the world. It is a way to contribute to the community and the world.” Says Morish Awania (25), who also volunteers for OpenStreetMap Uganda. Motivated by the desire to learn new skills, Morish took the initiative to get started with mapping. With the help of his colleague and friend Dayan Amandu, a Mapping Supervisor for HOT in Uganda, he set up a digital identity and familiarized himself with the latest online communication tools and applications. After joining an internship program at OpenStreetMap Uganda, Morish is now a dedicated volunteer and is actively involved in mapping activities not only as a contributor and also as a trainer. The internship program is a three-month online training that equips interns with skills and knowledge about OpenStreetMap, data quality tools, mobile data collection, introduction to basic GIS and QGIS, drone technology and image processing, among other skills through biweekly workshops. These workshops also include career guidance, networking and sharing of experiences. At the end of these internships some outstanding interns are provided with the opportunity to participate in ongoing projects.

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QGIS Map by Morish

“I never thought I would be where I am today. I had always thought that mapping projects could only be undertaken by university graduates and GIS specialists. I have learned new skills and as a result, I can comfortably use different applications and the internet to expand my skills not only in mapping but also in other areas of interest.”

Deogratias Kiggudde, Country Manager at HOT Uganda, has been part of this transformation by offering advice to Morish and other youth members of the OSM community in Uganda. “OSM has great potential for growth here in Uganda and beyond because anyone can map. It takes interest, willingness to learn and thereafter the commitment and responsibility to participate in mapping activities. Uganda has a large youth population that could easily tap into OSM and OpenStreetMap Uganda is contributing to this shared knowledge through the internship program.” Morish has participated in a number of mapping activities including Mapping Uganda’s New Cities project, which has been his pride and joy. “Contributing to the new cities has made me feel patriotic, because I have provided useful data to my country folk which can be used to better their lives.” Morish has also mapped his village, Nyori, in Oleba sub county, Maracha district and contributed by adding additional features and details to OSM using local knowledge. To date, Morish has expanded his knowledge to include working in Tasking Manager and QGIS. Within the next five years, his goal is to further develop his skills from contributing to map edits to analyzing and leading a team just like his mentor Dayan.


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