July 26, 2021 – Cross-posted from original blog
By Rebecca Braun and Emma Schlamm, YTH Initiative of ETR
The YTH Initiative of ETR has over a decade of experience co-designing innovative, technology-based health programs and products with young people around the globe. One project we have always been proud of is ZonaSegura, a trauma-informed youth-centered mobile solution to address teen dating violence (TDV) in Honduras. With initial funding from the World Bank Group and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI), YTH partnered with GOJoven Honduras and the GOJoven International Program of the Public Health Institute (PHI) to leverage the high rates of mobile phone usage among Honduran youth to overcome individual and structural barriers to accessing rights-based and gender-sensitive TDV prevention information and services.
Initially, ZonaSegura included a mobile-responsive study website, an Android mobile application (app), and a WhatsApp messaging campaign. Now, we are thrilled to announce the launch of a ZonaSegura chatbot! Meet Eli – the first and only trauma-informed, English and Spanish-language chatbot co-designed by youth to navigate and prevent teen dating violence in Honduras.
Offering users AI-powered rights-based and gender-sensitive violence prevention information, Eli’s content includes topics such as healthy and unhealthy relationships, abuse and violence, consent, intimacy, and safer sex. Eli also uses geo-location to provide the closest youth-friendly services for users seeking medical care, emotional support, legal advice, and shelter in Tegucigalpa. Additionally, for users who need immediate help, Eli provides a linkage to live crisis-response support.
Eli is friendly, conversational, and easy to use via WhatsApp (message +14156107758 or click here) or the ZonaSegura website, designed intentionally with menus, keywords, and emojis so youth can quickly get the support they need. Eli’s tone, language, and content was localized by our in-country partner, GOJoven Honduras, and then further refined through user-testing with Honduran youth to make sure it meets their needs.
With funding from the Twilio.org Crisis Response and Prevention Initiative, Eli was built to address a need for real-time, two-way support for violence prevention and crisis response, identified through an impact evaluation of the initial ZonaSegura intervention implemented in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Given the recent rise in gender-based violence both in Honduras and globally, due in part to the COVID-19 lockdowns, a tool like Eli could not be more timely.
We see Eli as a highly adaptable and scalable product with enormous potential to help youth across the globe access violence prevention information and support. Eli is eager and ready to travel to help new friends in new countries. If you are interested in learning more about Eli, or bringing Eli to your community, country, or organization, please visit our FAQs page or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.