Meet the Dharavi girls who are developing apps for women safety, education and more




Dharavi, the locality in Mumbai is in the news more than often for housing the biggest slum in India. We hardly look past that
But it’s time we did. A group of teenage girls needs us to.

A bunch of 12 to 14-year old girls of Dharavi, who have been fondly nicknamed the ‘Dharavi coders,’ are driving change with the help of technology.

An initiative which was started by filmmaker Nawneet Ranjan in 2014, who permanently moved to Mumbai from San Francisco after being moved by the lack of inspiration or ambition in the lives of the girls who lived in these slums and who witnessed daily occurings of starvation, injustices and domestic violence.

He vowed to do something about it and decided to instill in them the ability of dream and have oodles of confidence by introducing them to computers. As a part of Dharavi Diary of 2014, a slum innovation project that he began, he ensured that the girls were taught coding through the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Learning Program.

Later, they also used an open source app development tool, MIT App Inventor, to create their apps.

The initiative has paid off tremendously as the girls have developed a bunch of apps that tackle most of the everyday problems faced by the residents living in the slums.

For instance, they innovated an app called Paani which alerts the slum residents when it is their turn to collect water from the community tap, making the lives of the slum dwellers a whole lot easier as they didn’t have to waste time standing long hours in a queue every day.



That’s not all. They also have an app focusing on women safety. Called, Women Fight Back, the app has a distress alarm, location mapping, SMS alert and a feature that helps one select emergency contact numbers.

Some of the girls have built another app that intends to make Education simpler. Instead of the traditional teaching in classrooms route, the app teaches subjects like Science, English and Math through experiential activities such as taking photographs of objects to learn what it is called.

They haven’t stopped there.

Another app teaches kids the importance of segregating waste and waste management in general. It also gives ideas to recycle items to create new products.

What started as a small project with just 15 girls has today become a project which ahs roped in 200 students, including boys- giving the children of Dharavi an opportunity to dream. That too in just two years.

A recent fire in the slum in January however caused serious damage and led to the children losing their mobiles, laptops apart from everyday essentials like blankets, clothes, books, utensils and beds.

It’s time these young tech developers need help. Nawneet Ranjan himself is urging people to.

You can help these girls. All you need to do is donate here.




Image credit: Dharavi Diary
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