Help us to index gravestones in Belarus

The indexing process appears to be pretty simple but a closer look reveals that it is more than just a casual garden walk with a camera or a mobile phone.

To make a cemetery catalog with all the graves pinned with a five-meter accuracy a mobile application is required to allow the geotagging of the photographs and a user-friendly platform to search and browse the headstone pictures once they are uploaded. That’s the top-priority goal demanding a solid budget – around $10 000. Belarus-oriented platform is required precisely to engage young audience.

The process itself includes finding, cleaning and photographing historic tombstones that have not been dislocated. Getting to a site looks more or less like a hiking trip with respective preparations: appropriate clothing, insect repellent and sunglasses which is probably found in any household. 

Cleaning the tombstones is another story. This very responsible operation is conducted after training and with materials approved by specialists: professional cleaning liquid, brushes, gloves and water. The liquid is US-made and shipping two gallons to Belarus costs around $150. You probably need a gallon per cemetery but much depends on how bad the headstone vegetation is. Other stuff can be found in a household department of any store in Minsk.

Once clean and dry the tombstone can be photographed. Capturing images and location with a smartphone drains the battery so a portable one that allows several charges is a must ($30+ if bought in Belarus). Hebrew-speaking tombstones can only be transcribed once online – so certain techniques and gear are used here as well. The operation involves a 100-km ride round way or more, and takes most of the day, sometimes sunset hours, too. Finally, logistics - driving to the site and back home or staying overnight locally - is another perceptible item of expense.

I would thank you for any contribution to the project.