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Conquering loneliness by connecting old-age homes & orphanages via 'Maitri'

A group of schoolgirls has developed an app that will put the very old in contact with the very young and provide companionship that both crave.

Aditi Phadnis 

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

A five-member team of school girls has developed an app—Maitri—that won the bronze medal at the Technovation Challenge, the world’s largest technology and entrepreneurship programme for girls, held in San Francisco, last month.

Maitri—a mobile App that connects children at orphanages with senior citizens in old-age homes, aims at bringing together individuals suffering from loneliness and depression and those lacking the nurturing love of elderly role models, said the all-girl team ‘Tech Witches’. The app was developed by team leader Ananya Grover, who lost two grandparents in quick succession, and the resultant sense of loss and loneliness she felt.

The app, available for free on Google playstore, also allows users to volunteer and donate to old-age homes and orphanages, they said. The developers include Ananya Grover, Vanshika Yadav, Vasudha Sudhinder, Anushka Sharma and Arefa, all Class 12 students of Amity International School in Noida.

“We want to break the stereotype that girls don’t belong in the fields of Artificial Intelligence [AI] and technology. They can pursue careers in technology which is not gender-specific,” Ananya Grover said.

“Maitri allows old-age homes and orphanages to sign up and organise meetings, thus facilitating children and senior citizens to spend time together. The app has seen over 1,000 downloads till date and has 13 old-age homes and 7 orphanages connected through it,” said Ananya.

“During our initial phase we are focussing on Delhi-NCR area only but plan to take this App pan-India by getting more and more orphanages and old-age homes registered on it. Maitri allows only validated facilities to register and provides contact details and map locations for assistance,” she added.

Citing statistics on elderly people and children being increasingly abandoned, the students said the idea for their App originated from their shared passion for social welfare.

Technovation Challenge is the world’s largest technology and entrepreneurship programme for girls, which runs across 100+ countries, supported by Salesforce.org, Google.org, the Adobe Foundation, Uber, Samsung, BNY Mellon as well as UNESCO, the Peace Corps and UN Women, according to its website.

The Maitri developers are now looking to crowdfund $40,000, the investment needed for the first year of their operations.

“Donations received through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funding will also help the team recover their operation costs,” said one of the team members.

The team

Ananya Grover: I am the CEO of Tech Witches, involved in every aspect of our project from developing the app to making our business plan and pitch, but perhaps most importantly—holding the team together! I’m the Founding Editor of a global online magazine for High School students called Reflections Magazine (http://reflectionsmag.in), an Indian classical dancer, and a Menstrual Health activist and researcher. My academic passions lie in CS and Economics, especially at their intersection.

Anushka Sharma: I am a commerce student of grade 12 and I am the Chief Financial Officer in the team. I was involved in the making of the business model, stating the financial projections and budget, and developing the marketing strategies for the promotion of our app.

Arefa: I am the Chief Technical Officer of Tech Witches. I was mainly involved in the coding of our app. I also carried out the paper prototyping and created the pseudocode, which included deciding upon the functionality of our app. I am currently learning Java. With a passion for coding and designing I strongly believe that an amalgamation of the two can and must be used to change the world for the better and solve various social issues. I also love participating in MUNs and art competitions at my school.

Vanshika Yadav: I am the Chief Marketing and Analytical officer in the team. I was mainly involved in the making of the business plan. I also carried out pilot surveys for our platform and analysed them. I participate in activities in my school. Moreover, I also volunteer at an NGO to help the underprivileged.

Vasudha Sudhinder: I am the Chief Design and Communications Officer in the team. I interviewed caretakers at orphanages and old-age homes to gather their perspectives and came up with a brand identity for the Maitri app based on colour theory and aesthetics. I study science in school, and enjoy doing Yoga and Zumba.


With inputs from PTI

First Published: Sat, August 31 2019. 20:29 IST
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