Ability has made it through the eagerly awaited first week of our mapping exercise. We began mapping several areas in Nairobi city starting Monday the 29th of April. With our extremely energetic and committed team of 40 volunteers and 12 Ability staff members, we have been able to map out almost 500 entities including; Government buildings, streets, malls, residential areas,  offices, restaurants, hospitals and everywhere else in between that gives access to the public. And we are not done yet!

You will remember that at our volunteer training day on Friday 26 April, we asked all volunteers that signed up to indicate the days of the mapping week that they would be able to attend. With this list, we were able to split up the workload of mapping into sizeable chunks per day, which meant a mix of different volunteers each day visiting new areas and experiencing accessibility, or lack thereof, throughout the week. This not only allowed volunteers to meet and work with different people each day and avoid burnout within the group but for us at Ability meant a diverse pool of perspectives and observations every day which of course makes our findings even richer.

Each day The team met at 8:30 am at  Kencom, The main bus station in Nairobi’s CBD at which point they all received their mapping packs, lunch packs, A brief for the day and split up into groups according to the zones they were to map that day. Each group had their team leader whom they would touch base with throughout the day, then the team leader would feedback on how his/her group were doing to us here at Ability. Mapping packs include materials such as;

A mother map – this is a map showing the entire area, for example, all of Westlands on Day 1, or all of South B on Day 4.
Zone maps – these are zoomed in versions of the mother map, but only of the zones that each group went to visit that day. For example, Westlands was split up into a total of 16 zones and each group would need to map around three zones each. While the mother map helped to gauge The geography of the whole area, smaller zone maps helped them to focus specifically on the chunks they were delegated to map.
A sign-up sheet – this was to record each volunteer start/end times, how many buildings and streets were mapped in full that day and any other comments they may have needed to add for our attention.
A filming consent form – each day our media team (videography and photography) would take footage of each Group for documentation. These consent forms were to give us permission to use their images on our social media platforms and website. You can find our daily vlogs on our YouTube channel and photos on our Flickr page.https://www.flickr.com/photos/openinstitute https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2xe-UTLYNS5AqTuFtat-Bg

It has been a long, tiring but and doubted Lee productive start to our mapping exercise, But as we use the next couple of days to sift through our initial findings, here are some thoughts on what has stood out the most for our volunteers about the training day and the first week of mapping upon some reflection:

“Getting to a building seemed just normal to me until I underwent the simulation.  Going back to the same buildings after the simulation made me so sad that we’ve been making developments without giving a thought to those who are disabled” – Makworo Charles

“I had never noticed the lift at the capital center until the day we did mapping. Though it was functioning it was not well placed for easy use” -Benjamin Charagu

“Disability has just been a topical discussion until I was blind folded for hours in a simulation exercise on disability and accessibility that I understood how crucial the subject is. This paradigm shift really motivated me when carrying out the mapping assessment and I’m glad a number of institutions are embracing disability inclusion” – Dorothy Otieno

“It is still absurd that the lift at Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital is strategically placed at the maternity department yet it isn’t functional. Imagine a woman in labor having to go up the stairs whilst the lift is proximate to the stairs!”- Miss Candy

The last week has just been our first phase of mapping. If you think you would like to join us and volunteer in someway, please get in touch through our email ability@openinstitute.com and we would be happy to have you on board!