Mission-Driven Mapping

My journey from school to home was my unique experience, and success was simply drawing it on a piece of paper.

One of the most powerful map stories I have ever seen was “The Uprooted”. It paints a story about forcibly leaving home, displacement and how it affected millions of people around the world. It was so powerful because I saw the experiences of my family, my grandmother, aunts and uncles in map form.

The story goes like this: War was breaking out in our country and we had to leave. We left in the middle of the night. It was our mom and nine of the ten children. One of the older children stayed behind. The youngest child on the journey was one year old. We had to walk for three weeks and slept along the way. The image of the Somali refugee camp made me think about the sleeping conditions.

After about a month, they stopped, waited in Sudan, and one day a helicopter came and took them to Italy. Now, having heard this story for many years, there are so many parts left out or added between the month-long journey and arriving in Italy. There was a lasting impression that traveling by air was much more cherished than any other form of travel, like boat or foot, and everyone was so happy to have arrived in Italy.

Really, they had traveled to many countries before stopping in Italy, but often these parts are left out of the retelling of the experience. At some point, they were able to transition into a new normal and started creating memories much like the image showing cycling lessons for newly arrived Syrians in Berlin, Germany.

Let’s recap! "The Uprooted" looks at forcible displacement and how it affected people across many geographies. The story is told with clarity and composure through maps, pictures and words.