I have been trying to map out where exactly it is that I work.
Sure, I have paper maps, internet maps, even Google Maps. The problem is that 90% of the places i work in are not listed on any map with any identifiable road.
Therefore, this term i have been making it a point to drop in GPS coordinate pins of the villages and camps I work in.
There is a village i used to work in that is found on an odd map. However, i am more heavily involved in smaller villages, “campements” further on where the road no longer looks like a road. I have general bearings to its location down the bush cowpaths that come to “Y” all over the place.
I actually got lost yesterday. Not totally lost, but ended up at a single family mud hut. The malian with me had never been to these camps, also it has been seven months since my last trip to this region.
The young girl there told us to keep driving a little further, keeping to the path that branches to the left. We were about one kilometer short of where I thought I was.
We soon found the Campement.
Smartphones are amazing. I flipped on my GPS location service and dropped a pin on the base map which records my actual latitude and longitude. It surprised me to discover where I actually was on a base map. I thought I was Southeast of a known map position, as that is the direction i head from this quasi map identified small village. If I were to hand point my location on a map, i would have placed my location a good six kilometers too far to the south.
For three years I had thought we were much further south and that several small river crossings blocked our access north to a paved road. But my typographical map indicated no barriers from our, now known, actual location.
Rather than drive 30KM on a bush road to the larger village, where we no longer work, and then a further twelve Kilometers to the camps, for a total of 42km; This GPS pin shows me that we can drive 29km down a paved road, and then follow any small path straight south for 17 km and we could be in the campement.
So, after holding our meetings about the drought season food security, we took a path north for the first time, toward the paved road.
Seriously, I was very happy to discover that this work area will require much less bush road driving , now that we are free from having to go via that other village.
We found the decent path out. But, I wonder if we will get lost trying to go back in for the first time? I have to deliver drip irrigation kits for fifty new families entering the drought season vegetable garden train next week.
“Imperial economics is designed to keep people satiated so that they do not notice. Its politics is intended to block out the cries of the denied ones. Its religion is to be an opiate so that no one discerns misery…”
(Walter Brueggemann The Prophetic Imagination)