I wanted a survivor of violence, anywhere in the world, to both find and access help when she needed it and for it to be available without hindrance. This dream manifested itself in the form of the GBV Help Map.
The subjectivity of it all was striking: What is hindrance, how easy is access, what can be done beyond making information available, and how would different situations be handled? I had so many questions and realized this was my big, audacious goal. When I decided that these questions were more than I could handle, I almost decided to not move forward with my big vision. Two hours later, I received an email from World Pulse, telling me that I had been chosen as an Impact Leader after submitting my vision for the GBV Help Map. This was a sign for me to not give up on my big, audacious goal!
As an impact leader, I was provided a team of mentors: Wendy Moomaw, Kelly Botto, and Dafna Hayman who believed in my vision and my capabilities, and from then on, there was no looking back.
Putting the GBV map together and integrating it as an app came with its own set of challenges such as figuring out who went on the map, developing a verification process that would make an organization worthy of inclusion on the map, and piecing the data together in a way that would work for the app.
During the app’s creation, the external forces around the world had its own set of strange happenings: Hillary Clinton lost the election in the US, two large currency denominations in the Indian currency were demonetized, and recently, the Chief Minister of my state passed away. These external distractions resulted in unplanned and undeclared holidays and felt like emotional blows. It was a little difficult to keep the strength. Every email of support from my team of amazing mentors furthered my resolve and I doubled up my efforts.
While the screens of the app and the app’s structure are being prepared, I finely tuned the data so the app would always have access on its own server. It then became apparent that we were on the right track. All that’s left to do is to pull the data into the app’s functionality and present it, which should take place shortly.
Support came in from all directions, and it was especially touching to see how the concept of collaboration, not competition, came to be. Since I have the benefit of an audience and a community of users to tap into at The Red Elephant Foundation, I began marketing the GBV Help Map as one of the programs at The Red Elephant Foundation. Other social entrepreneurs soon bought into my dream as well, and began sharing and expanding the network of users by taking the map to their followers and beneficiaries. As a result of the GBV map online, today, there are about 1500 women who have written to me—on email, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, and even on text messages—to tell me that they used the map for themselves or for friends or relatives caught in difficult situations. Further, they write back saying that many a time, they felt like they had made the decision to leave a violent relationship or to report a crime of gender-based violence, but they didn’t know where to go or who to trust.
One of the common themes of all these messages is this: The map has created a trust-building opportunity for survivors to seek out organizations that provide exactly what they need after facing violence.
Looking back, I'm glad I didn't give up on my big audacious goal. Today, the map is already helping many women!