In 2017 HOT received a device grant from Nethope to minimise barriers to community mapping projects by providing additional access to technology and connectivity. To date, HOT has supported five community projects with smartphones and laptops to increase their mapping capacity. In December, HOT Turkey was able to use this new technology to train local community members and refugees to map their city of Istanbul. One of the mapping participants, Leila, is a Syrian refugee who moved to Turkey three years ago. This is her story:
Leila and her mother at training
Leila is 17 years old and she first arrived in Turkey with her family three years ago to flee the conflict in her hometown, Aleppo, Syria. Now she lives in Sultanbeyli, Istanbul. She has worked hard to learn Turkish by attending language courses, with the hope of finishing high school and continuing her studies. Unfortunately though, she has never had the time to return to school, because she needs to take care of her siblings and support her family. She is one of the volunteers who has joined the field mapping of Sultanbeyli, the district she is living in, as a part of Yer Çizenler's 4BINA Project in Istanbul. Yer Çizenler is a charity with the goal of creating a multilingual map of Istanbul by training and working with Arabic-spekaing refugees. Alongside other volunteers, Leila joined the two days of "OSM and Field Mapping" training provided by Yer Çizenler. She has never owned a computer or a mobile phone, and training was the first time she learnt how to use these devices. The laptops and phones made possible through the Nethope Device Challenge grant are giving Leila and others like her the chance to learn new skills using technology they would never before have had access too. Leila enjoyed the training so much that she adapted easily to working with the new technology and quickly picked up field mapping.
Leila says, "I wanted to do something valuable for my community in Sultanbeyli. By joining this field mapping team, I feel like I am supporting my community to be able to access the services provided for them. We don't have an accessible map for our community in the Arabic language. So I am doing something valuable and I want to learn as much as I can, to be able to continue the field mapping and contribute more."
Within fifteen days Leila had managed to complete her task. During field mapping, she contributed hundreds of service points in the Arabic language to the OSM data in Sultanbeyli district, working passionately everyday alongside fellow volunteers.
At the end of the field mapping task in Sultanbeyli, Leila says she would like to contribute more to different districts of İstanbul, as well. She wants to own a mobile phone when she is 18, and to continue to contribute to OSM data as much as she can. She is very thankful for the training and field mapping task she got involved with, because finally, after all this time, she feels that she has the opportunity to learn again, and she is excited to use her new skills to map service points to help support vulnerable communities.
Participants at mapping training