The MP3ForLife device is loaded with 400+ answers to common questions about health, nutrition, family planning, and more, translated into more than 100 languages.
Solar energy has a lot of potential for alleviating poverty in the developing world, not only through providing clean power for such needful things as lights and mobile phones, but also indirectly, as illustrated by the work of URIDU, whose voice-operated MP3 player could be a useful source of information for those who can't read or write. While the western world is fixated on using voice-controlled devices such as the Amazon Alexa or Google Home to do things like control their music, to order more stuff from Amazon, or to turn off their lights from the other room, mobile audio technology can also be used by someone in rural Africa to get vital information about health, education, nutrition, and life skills.
URIDU's MP3ForLife is a small ruggedly-built solar-powered audio device that contains the answers to more than 400 common (and relevant) questions, all translated and recorded by a native speaker of their language, and aimed at meeting the needs of illiterate women in rural areas. Because women are the backbone of any plan to alleviate poverty, and are most often not only the family and home caretaker but also the wage earner, as well as serving as the core of strong social networks that share information and knowledge, finding a way to increase their access to vital skills without having to teach them all to read and write first is a big step upward.
The German nonprofit organization URIDU "empowers rural women in developing and emerging countries," and was founded by Felicitas Heyne, a psychologist, and her economist husband after watching a documentary (Claus Kleber's Hunger) and being moved by the huge impact that access to simple information can have.
"How could it possibly be that, in the year 2014, children all over the world were still dying in millions simply because their mothers did not have access to the most basic informations needed to prevent their deaths? While, on the other hand, women in developed countries had immediate 24/7 access to any information available on this planet? How to change this huge imbalance and grave injustice? How to bring basic, but vital information about health, child care, family planning, nutrition, hygiene and other essential knowledge to a woman like Chaya‘s mother: poor, illiterate, and living in an area where there is not even electricity available?" - URIDU
The device itself, with its brilliant tagline "Press Play, Save Lives," is being provided free of charge to rural women with the help of local NGOs and other agencies, where it can deliver the contents of what is dubbed the Uridupedia to individuals and small groups in their own language. Uridupedia is described as containing "vital knowledge for rural women" that has been vetted by experts and translated by some 10,000 volunteers into more than 100 languages. Questions range from "How can I stay healthy during pregnancy?" to "How can I purify my water?" to "How can I prevent malaria?" and "How can I care for myself during my monthly bleeding?" and answers are designed to foster discussion and exchange among women.
"#Every6seconds a child under five dies. Most of these deaths are entirely preventable. Diarrhea alone kills 2195 children every day—more than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined. Most of these lives could be easily saved by educating mothers about very simple things like adequate sanitation, personal hygiene and rehydration.
However, many women happen to live in remote rural areas in developing countries. They do not have access to electricity, let alone TV or radio. And worst of all: most of them cannot read or write. So how do you provide them with basic, but vital information about health, child care, family planning and other essential topics?" - URIDU
There aren't many details about the specs of the solar MP3 player, other than the fact that it's got a small solar cell on the back, but the device is not the only way that URIDU is helping to enable wider access to "vital knowledge," because the organization has also made the content available online at URIDU.com. According to the organization, the website is "highly optimized for mobile devices and that allows access even with slow 2G networks," and is currently available in Indonesian, Spanish, French, Arabic, Swahili, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and English.
Find out more, or donate to the mission of providing accessible health education to rural women, at URIDU.org.