By Ray Lapine
On any Saturday, members of the Red Cross Club at The Overlake School in Redmond WA can almost literally touch another part of the world to help victims of disasters that haven’t happened yet.
How can they do that? By joining an open online meeting to work on the Missing Maps Project.
The Missing Maps Project recruits volunteers to help create detailed maps of remote areas of the globe so humanitarian organizations can efficiently deliver aid to those places when disaster strikes.
The Red Cross Club members at Overlake are now working with satellite images of Indonesia. When they log on, they choose a section of an image and use online tools to trace the outline of buildings, roadways, and other critical infrastructure on that section. Sending that information forward is the first part of a process that creates digital maps which aid workers will use in the field.
The Red Cross Club at Overlake was started just this January by Kiran Mitra, a sophomore, and her brother Kaustav, a freshman. The two started the club because they were interested in what the Red Cross does both here at home and overseas.
Kiran is surprised at how many club members take part in the Saturday mapping project. She said, “We weren’t expecting so many students to show up during the weekend because there is, like, homework and test preps and all that.” She added: “Our members like it because these also count to the school’s graduation requirement for service hours, so they are really happy we have this every week so they can get their hours and help Red Cross.”
The brother and sister team plan other ventures for the club. They intend to invite a Red Cross speaker to come to the school to talk about the danger of home fires. And they may participate in the Holidays for Heroes campaign, a program that engages in different activities to thank and encourage members of the military and veterans living in our community.
The Red Cross Club at Overlake is one of twelve school clubs in the Northwest Region. For now, all of them are located west of the Cascades. But the Red Cross would like to develop more clubs east of those mountains to involve more students in our humanitarian work.