For the most part, my work on this project has dealt with finding and coding information for the database. Many times I have felt a connection with the women and men I briefly meet as I read and search for data. These are people whose lives underlie the statistics, who live day-in and day-out with the reality of situations that I see only in poignant, but passing glances as I read.

Sometimes it is difficult to know of these challenging situations, but I remain hopeful that our efforts to raise awareness and gather information will help forge improvements in policies and actions across the world. I am furthermore grateful, realizing that these brief encounters with people I will never meet in real life have nevertheless shaped who I am and how I see the world.

I have reflected on the personal impact of this project in the last weeks, especially as my efforts have been more focused on training coders–new students joining our project. Eager and excited, these new fellow-coders bring energy and commitment to the project; I know they will be meaningful contributors. And I wonder if they will be as transfigured by the project as I feel I have been.

So, a welcome to new coders, and an invitation to others: if you’ve worked on this project, how has it influenced you? for all, what other types of perhaps similar experiences have brought meaningful insights to your life?

—by MMH

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