The programme, Mobile for Development, started as a pilot project in 2013 in partnership with MobilTrain, an India-based mobile company that provides training and courses via mobile phones.
Mobile for Development is currently running in two locations in Sri Lanka – Peraliya and Gandhara – and is empowering 150 women in child rights, childcare, health and hygiene, and financial management. Both, Peraliya and Gandhara, were devastated in the 2004 tsunami. SOS Children recognised the need for various social skills to ensure safe and caring home environments for children in these two cities.
“The programme has uplifted the education of children in these communities, reducing malnutrition, providing psychosocial support and capacity building of families,” says Ananda Karunarathne, National Director of SOS Sri Lanka.
How it works
The women receive three face-to-face training sessions and then SMS messages for 180 days. The programme lasts for six months. MobilTrain provides the SMS messages and technical support but the mothers prioritise the topics. The messages include daily to-dos, parenting tips, reflection questions, behaviour modification advice and homework. Each week the women meet in a focus group to discuss the messages and their experiences.
The programme focuses on:
- Analysing communication within the family
- Developing skills on non-confrontational communication with adolescents
- Helping children with their studies
- Understand importance of finances and how to manage home finances
“It is a project that helped us learn about technology and how it can empower. It is beneficial in all aspects,” says one of the mothers.
SOS project coordinators and mobile service providers are closely monitoring the focus groups. Positive changes have been noticed amongst the mothers and even their husbands. Some of the positive finds include: a better understanding of the emotional needs of their children and improved communication with their families.
“SOS Children's Villages Sri Lanka is pleased to introduce this contemporary mode of imparting knowledge and skills to marginalised communities,” says Ananda. “The mothers are demanding this kind of project because they see the value of the method of learning and content.”
With the success of the programme, it is planned to be extended from six months to one year, and to be implemented into other locations.
ICT4D – what is it?
Mobile for Development is apart of our ICT4D programme – Information, Communication and Technology for Development. At SOS Children, we recognise the use of technology to mobilise disadvantage individuals and communities. We use ICT4D in many ways: capacity-building interventions, direct essential services, advocacy work and connecting people to our Villages.