Sreepur Village App

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Short description

Sreepur Village App: Providing destitute single mothers across Bangladesh with Covid-19, health & educational support.

Description

Through this project we aim to design and trial the ‘Sreepur Village App’ in Bengali that could significantly increase the number of destitute single mothers and children receiving vital support in Bangladesh (e.g. health, education, advocacy, vocational training and future prospects) by utilising digital technology. This is especially important during Covid-19 and monsoon season.

One girl’s story:
“Amala” is just 14 years old and she is a single mother to a 10-month old baby girl. Amala’s mother was disabled and abandoned her when she was a young child. Following her father’s death she was brought up by her aunt who insisted, despite her age, that she should earn a living. Amala has a speech impediment, and with no skills or employment prospects she resorted to begging on the streets. One day while Amala was begging, she was raped. She found out she was pregnant and gave birth to her daughter at the Lutheran Aid to Medicine in Bangladesh Hospital. Following the birth the hospital sent Amala and her daughter to the Danish Bangladesh Leprosy Mission who then contacted social workers at Sreepur Village. Sreepur Village is the only residential charity in Bangladesh to keep children and their mothers together. We welcomed Amala and her baby in late June, 2020. They have completed their quarantine period and we can continue to care for them with hope for a brighter future.

Project Needs:

1. To assist destitute women in Bangladesh:
The average age for girls to get married in Bangladesh is 15.5. Many impoverished families force their young daughters to marry older men as they cannot afford to look after them themselves. Most single mothers arriving at Sreepur Village have been widowed, divorced or abandoned by their husbands, who may have several other wives. They cannot return to their parents as they still “belong” to their former husbands’ families and they cannot remain with their in-laws because of cultural taboos regarding single motherhood. They are ostensibly stuck and must often resort to desperate measures to survive. They arrive at Sreepur Village from the streets, urban slums, poor villages or Char communities (precariously situated on river deltas) and have suffered from unimaginable abuse, trauma and ostracization, often at the hands of their own families, as well as extreme poverty, health problems, homelessness, malnutrition, lack of education and many are victims of sex-trafficking.

2. To provide remote support across Bangladesh due to Covid-19 travel restrictions:
As of late September 2020 there have been nearly 354,000 people in Bangladesh who have tested positive for Covid-19 and over 5,040 official deaths. However the real figures are suspected to be considerably higher than the official announcements as so little testing has been carried out. In fact, according to the World Health Organisation Covid-19 “could kill 2 million in Bangladesh”. Experts have warned that Bangladesh, which is already overwhelmed by flooding, humanitarian and refugee crises, will struggle to find the resources to deal with the pandemic. Other Covid challenges in Bangladesh include public distrust (e.g. Covid patients unwilling to receive care in public hospitals) and corruption (e.g. the case of a hospital owner who issued thousands of fake negative covid-19 test results to patients). Every lockdown causes travel and social distancing restrictions, meaning that Sreepur Village must be able to adapt to providing online, remote support to desperate families.

3. Using technology to reach larger numbers of women: In 2021 Bangladesh will celebrate its Golden Jubilee (50th anniversary) and the government are implementing their “Digital Bangladesh” programme to digitally develop the country by 2021. Bangladesh is a strongly mobile-based culture. In order to reach out to much larger numbers of destitute women and children, Sreepur Village need to use our 31 years of hands-on experience and adapt our services to cutting-edge digital platforms (to run in parallel with our current activities).

Project Description:
The ‘Sreepur Village App’ will leverage Sreepur Village’s 31 years of hands-on experience and provide easy to use tools, videos, instructions and tips in the following areas:

1. Agricultural Training
e.g. Homestead gardening, sack gardens, nutrition, fish farming, duck and goat rearing, seasonal information on crops and agriculture, links to weather apps.

2. Health
E.g. Checking self-reported symptoms with healthcare professionals via IMO instant messaging, Zoom, WhatsApp, GPS to find nearby health centres, and avoid Covid-19 hotspots. Videos on handwashing and healthy cooking. Our social workers can monitor the health and nutrition of mothers and children at home through video chats

3. Finance:
Financial literacy support, Mobile Banking, Calculator

4. Support and Advocacy
Information on women’s and children’s rights and entitlements, Legal Literacy, Advocacy, Reporting domestic abuse/getting support, Comprehensive follow up of reintegrated families

5. General information on Sreepur Village
Our history, our activities, admission criteria, photos and videos, alumni section

Pilot:
Initially we will train 30 single mothers to use the App over a 4 month period (including 10 single mothers currently living at Sreepur Village and 20 former residents who now live in their home communities). We will assess if the App meets their needs in terms of health, education, agricultural training, financial tools, advocacy, reporting domestic abuse, locating Covid-19 hotspots etc. The mothers will provide user feedback (in terms of it meeting their needs, ease of use, amendments etc) via the App and at monthly feedback focus group meetings.

Project evaluation will include how well the App works and how well the training of the single mothers went. The evaluation will be carried out by Sreepur Village’s IT and Administration departments.

Long-term:
Every year we expect that the App will be able to provide at least 5,000 impoverished single mothers and children at Sreepur Village and in isolated, underprivileged communities across Bangladesh with remote support.

Women in Bangladesh are often victims of family and societal discrimination, with little access to health, education and other resources.
Our findings from our gender-based analysis have shaped the design of the project accordingly:
1) Most mothers are illiterate when they arrive at Sreepur Village therefore when we teach the mothers how to use smartphones with a Bengali keyboard, this will coincide with their weekly literacy classes.
2) The App will been designed with specific learning modules that will empower single mothers through (e.g. providing livelihood skills training, life skills training, education for children, healthcare advice and financial tools) so that they can live independently and care for their children after leaving Sreepur Village
3) Each mother will access their smartphone with their fingerprint to prevent male relatives accessing the phone without permission or stealing it.

Target country

Bangladesh

Project type

  • Alleviation
  • Community
  • Education
  • Food
  • Healthcare
  • Wellbeing
  • Work & Productivity

Support needed

  • Marketing
  • Raising capital

What we need help with

The Sreepur Village is a purpose-built community 50km from Dhaka in rural Bangladesh that was established in 1989. We provide a refuge and safe haven for poverty-stricken single mothers and their children where they can live for up to three years, whilst being equipped with crucial livelihood skills and knowledge to provide for themselves and their families over the long-term future. At any one time Sreepur Village provides approximately 150 single mothers and 350 children aged 0-10 with basic needs (such as shelter and food) and a secure and loving environment. For over 31 years we have directly supported over 6,000 destitute single mothers and children to break out of the cycle of poverty and towards financial independence, and touched the lives of tens of thousands more, all across Bangladesh. Our Core programmes: 1. Child and Mother Care Accommodation, nutritious meals, toiletries, clothing, psychological services, legal services, parenting classes, life skill development, nutrition classes and Swim-safe classes. 2. Education Kindergarten, Pre-School, Primary school for children aged 0-10 3. Rehabilitation and Livelihood Development • Income generating activities training for mothers e.g. Tailoring, Agriculture, Garments manufacture and Bamboo weaving. • Mothers’ literacy classes - Reading, writing and numeracy classes • Halfway house to help families reintegrate into society and gain independence • Long-term e.g. Home visits with social workers, help with opening bank accounts 4. Clinic and Healthcare Medical treatments, vaccinations, surgical procedures, micronutrients, dental care, health and hygiene education The ‘Sreepur Village App’ will be the first time we have developed a digital product. We will be working with local developers in Bangladesh, but in order to make the App an efficient, life-saving tool for thousands of impoverished single mothers and their children we need help with raising capital and marketing.

Best way to get in touch

Pat Kerr MBE, Overseas Director (pavkerr@hotmail.com) or Melanie Wolfson, Trust Fundraiser (Melanie@sreepurvillage.org)

Project status

  • In Progress