The MANNHEIMER MAPATHONS ("MAMAPA") project has two specific goals: to support the integration of immigrants (resident in the Rhein-Neckar region of Germany) and to contribute to international humanitarian initiatives.
By providing introductory training in modern cartography through immigrant participation in locally-organized Mapathons, both of these ends can be served simultaneously.
Taking part in Mapathon events -- a method in humanitarian cartography proven extremely effective in supporting the activity of humanitarian relief staff "out in the field" (for example, Doctors without Borders, the UNHCR, the Red Cross) immigrant participants have the opportunity to:
- acquire basic knowledge of, and initial skills in, the fields of geography and modern digital cartography (and Information Technology, in general) . Repeated participation serves to deepen initial knowledge.
- augment on-going efforts toward integration in German society through direct contact with native participants during the Mapathons and the accompanying language practice.
- make a concrete humanitarian contribution. Moreover, as far as possible, the target areas selected for mapping are chosen so that the nature of their contribution may be directly appreciated. This can be accomplished by, for example, selecting to map an area of the world where refugee issues are most acute or by selecting areas located in or near the home countries of the participants.
The special organization of the project Mannheimer Mapathons, in which immigrants are paired with local residents -- working in tandem at PC / laptop stations -- to discuss and map together, serves to break down prejudicial and stereotypical thinking for all participants, creating the foundations for the growth of mutual respect and trust.
The project is supported by BASF (Ludwigshafen) und CartONG (Chambéry, France), an NGO with over 10 years of experience in the field of humanitarian cartography. In the Rhein-Neckar Region, MANNHEIMER MAPATHONS has been well received. Currently, the project manager works closely with the Goethe Institut, the Internationalen Bund, the Stadtbibliothek Ludwigshafen, the Hochschule Mannheim, the Volkshochschule Heidelberg and the Mannheimer Abendakademie. The latter four have most generously made their IT infrastructure available to the project. The presence of members of the DisasterMappers group (Geographic Institute, Heidelberg University) adds importantly to the didactic quality of the Mapathons. Within the local public administration, the directors of the Integration and Migration Authorities from Mannheim and Ludwigshafen have notably contributed to the project's success.