Enlightenment in Burundi: New era begining

It has been more than five weeks now since we arrived in Buja, feeling and looking like strangers in this completely different world of traffic jams, daily rains, crowded streets and burning sun. We were thrown to a reality so different from what we all knew from our home countries on the level of culture, climate and also security. But the world around us wasn’t the single brand new thing we were facing. The cyberspace of our tools and the concrete shapes of our work here were sometimes even more confusing. While the environment of daily life in Burundi has been discovered day by day by experiencing cultural contrasts and different rhythm of live, the main part of the world of JOSM, GPS tracks and walking papers remained unexplored as well as the main activities of our mission. This week the final illumination has come!

Since the arrival of our HOT support Sebastien Pierrel our technical skills are raising to the heavens highs, by practicing the tools and geeking in front of the computers until the late evenings. One morning we even left our cyber nest for the second time to collect the GPS data by wading in our pilot area of Buterere! And the mission was successful!!! Well… maybe Sebastien as an old ware-horse in the world of maps would have slightly different opinion but from the point of view of OSM junior our second survey was at least good. After three hours in the field we all ended up terribly sunburned (not Sebastien thanks to his cute outdoor hat) but with GPS’ filled by waypoints and tracks and that counts!

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Another enlightenment came with the Skype conversation with Nicolas Chevant from HOT community, who gave us clear instructions about our future activities. This provided the satisfying feeling to understand completely our mission after all. Satisfaction shifted soon to the feeling of the total chaos. We have so much work to do! Apart from the technical aspects there is a plenty of phone calls to do, people to meet and finally (celebratory music playing) mapping parties to organize!!! It means we eventually hit the imaginary target and we are (theoretically) ready to spread our mapping skills among the future OSM contributors. Although we just entered the phase of preparation of this big event it feels like breaking point in our present work here and we all can’t wait to perform not just our technical but also mentoring skills practically.

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