Five girls have developed a mobile app that connects children at orphanages with senior citizens in old-age homes, with their innovation fetching them a bronze medal at global tech competition in the US.
The app, called Maitri, is aimed 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, available for free on Google playstore, also allows users to volunteer and donate to old-age homes and orphanages through it, 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, who said they "want to change the stereotype of technology being a male-dominant space".
"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.
The girls went to San Francisco, US this month to participate in the Technovation Challenge, the world's largest technology and entrepreneurship programme for girls, where they clinched the bronze medal for their innovative app.
"'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.
Now the 'Maitri' developers are looking forward to crowdfund USD 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 them.
Lauding the girls' efforts, Amita Chauhan, Chairperson of Amity International Schools, said, "It's a great achievement since the students are inculcating the values which we actually wanted them to imbibe, as it reflects in their idea for the app social welfare."