KOLKATA, India, 27 April 2011 - Salim Sheikh, 13, and his friends are putting their sprawling Kolkata slum on the map – literally. For a year now, they’ve been gathering data about the people, small brick huts, crowded alleys, scattered temples, trees, water pumps and other facts that identify Rishi Aurobindo Colony in eastern Kolkata.
With the support of UNICEF and local non-governmental organization Prayasam, they’ve created a colourful, hand-drawn map of their community. Soon, they will also upload much of the information onto Google Earth, one of the world’s best-known computer mapping systems. When they do, Salim says he will finally feel secure in his bustling universe.
“With this map, everyone in the world will know we are here. We are a community with many issues and ideas, just like anybody,” he says.