#MEET ChalkPeace and GBV Help Map
Published on: 10.08.2017
#MEET ChalkPeace and GBV Help Map
1. Please, tell us a bit about yourself: where are you from and what is your background?
My name is Kirthi Jayakumar. I am from Chennai. I am a survivor of sexual violence and bullying as a child and teenager, and I believe I aim to become the adult that I needed when I was a child. In my work since I founded the Red Elephant Foundation in June 2013, I have been driving my efforts towards bringing down instances of bullying and violence among children through my program called ChalkPeace, with which we train young people using peace education as the core modality. In order to restore control in the hands of women after they face sexual violence, I train communities on violence sensitization and first responder strategies – which then led to my learning to code so that I could put together the GBV Help Map as both, a website and as a mobile app.
2. Can you describe your idea or project in two sentences?
ChalkPeace is a peace education project that strives to empower young people with empathy, respect for diversity and all the tools they need to approach life and the world through equity. The GBV Help Map is a tech-for-good tool that aims at restoring the right and control of survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV) over their lives by helping them access empathetic support around them.
3. How did you get your idea or concept?
Both, ChalkPeace and the GBV Help Map have arisen out of my own journey. The ideas came to me at times when I was stubborn about no longer wanting to be on the side of the problem by doing nothing about it. I wanted to be a solution, and after research and understanding where solutions were lacking, I found a way to plug those gaps. In all honesty, you could say that the idea was in the making, but didn’t quite catalyze into the form and shape until June 2013. But the story, though, begins on the night of December 17, 2012. On December 15, 2012, I had turned 25. On December 16, 2012, the gang-rape in Delhi, as most people know, took place. On December 17, 2012, I was at the US Consulate General at Chennai, receiving an award for my work with a US-based NGO called Delta Women, which worked for the rights of women in the US and in Nigeria, and the right to education for children in Nigeria. When I received the award, I truly felt like a hypocrite – because here I was, receiving an award when there was so much more left to be done, and when a girl was battling for her life because we as a community sacrificed her at the altar of patriarchy, misogyny, toxic and hegemonic masculinity, and inaction on part of a civilian populace that should have been vigilant. I went to bed that night, thinking of how much we had allowed passing in the name of “We are like this only”. It was on the same day that I had come to face a dissociated past, where I had completely blocked out my own memories of facing abuse as a child. I decided to do what I could on my own and started by telling my story. Six months later, I looked back to see how telling my story had made a difference: one, parents and to-be parents began to be vigilant about the vulnerability of their children and began to work with their children to have open conversations towards staying safe; two, I realised that I began to feel better and my own personal comfort levels felt like they were higher because I had owned my narrative instead of dissociation and my journey to healing began, and finally, that people were beginning to talk, openly, and get issues that were otherwise covert, out into the open. The vision was to change the landscape through storytelling – but by about a year, we realized that we had reached a plateau. Great, people were talking. But what about the solutions? We then decided to get down to doing sound research (legal and policy) that we now use to suggest and inform change, AND, we also work with the youth and their parents through workshops, to shift mindsets through interactive and educational workshops to make them internalize gender equality as the norm. Then came a time in the journey when we realized that try as we might, the shift could only provide massive ripple effects in the future. But in the present, there is a desperate need to address the state of violence against women. One aspect of this has been to help women get out of a violent environment and get help. This led us to work on developing a tech tool (available now as a website – gbvhelpmap.crowdmap.com, and soon to become an app), that maps organisations across 197 countries (right now, out of these only Syria and North Korea remain information black holes for obvious reasons), providing medical, legal, resource (food, shelter, clothing, crisis response), education and employment, police and medical services and consular establishments (this alone will be added this week) so that women can access them, get help, and stay safe.
4. What is unique about your idea/project and how does it benefit mankind?
What is unique about my idea is that both, ChalkPeace and the GBV Help Map are unique solutions in areas where there are several gaps. They are also complementary solutions in that they address the overarching issue from two directions.
5. Describe yourself as an entrepreneur in one sentence
I am hard-working and constantly learning.
6. How do you deal with people that doubt your abilities/initiatives?
I first ask them why they have their doubts, and engage with them to understand whether it is a real shortcoming on my part or a perceived shortcoming. If it is a real shortcoming, I appreciate their doubts and spend time overcoming the shortcoming by learning new skills / seeking their mentorship / collaborating to plug gaps in my skills. If it is a perceived shortcoming, I thank them for sharing and waiting for my work to do the talking.
7. Where does your passion lie?
My passion lies in learning things and converting them into solutions of some sort or the other.
8. What are you afraid of or what keeps you up at night?
Unhealed trauma from my past instances of abuse keeps me awake at night. I know that with every new thing I ideate and implement, I’m inching closer to sleep.
9. According to you, money is a synonym for…..
10. If you could rid the world of three things, what would they be?
Corruption, Negative Thinking, and Hate.
11. What are the benefits you take from the Entrepreneurship Campus?
Networking with like minded individuals who can help me scale my work and also come together to create lasting change by collaborating together rather than competing; mentorship and guidance, and also learning new things from others.
12. What do you like more about the Entrepreneurship Campus?
The nurturing environment and the humanizing of entrepreneurship – rather than look at entrepreneurship as merely business, there is a beautiful undertone of empathy that helps humanize the entire environment.
13. Which idea/project do you like most?
14. Please, include a link to a video if you have one
NOTICE: If you want to see more submitted ideas and projects at the Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition, visit BEST IDEAS and BEST PROJECTS and VOTE for the ones you think deserve to WIN the Competition!