World Renew Develops App for Partners and Communities

For the last few years, World Renew has been working on creating a cell phone application to help our partners and community members improve their lives and work. The app, called Talmids, based on the Hebrew word for disciple, will provide partner staff and volunteers with access to practical training in a variety of community-based development topics as well as direct reporting on field visits from our partners. 

Working with a local Malawi based software developer, World Renew’s Southern Africa Team Leader Steve Sywulka and partner UCZ Zambia have been guiding the creation of the web-based content management system. In March 2023, the work, with other innovators, will be demonstrated by Hellen Gondwe of UCZ at a live event held by the NGO Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York, as part of the 2023 UN Women CSW Forum.

“There are several goals for the Talmids app,” Sywulka explained. “First, we want to empower people in remote communities to end poverty and hunger, and equip them to teach others using downloadable content that can be accessed anywhere. Then, we want to increase transparency between World Renew, our partners, and participants to transform more communities sustainably.”

Sywulka also said that while the software application is in development and testing, it will contain 250 activity-based, animated lessons on agriculture, maternal and child health, household financial management, ending gender violence, and disaster preparation. So far, the lessons are available in seven languages in text and audio modes so that local facilitators can train small groups of literate and non-reading participants in their neighborhoods. 

“The reporting feature of Talmids gives partner staff and community volunteers access to adaptive project management by enabling real-time collection, analysis, and tracking of data to measure the progress of programs. Users can rate the training features, send feedback, give quizzes, report their training activities, and send stories and photos back to their partner office and World Renew,” Sywulka said. 

Besides directly reporting volunteer and community activities right on their phones, partner staff can use the app to manage their work by creating surveys and assigning tasks to volunteers in remote locations. 

Community priorities can be added to track trends and shape village planning as well as inform future World Renew program funding. 

“Throughout 60 years of ministry, World Renew has managed robust training and reporting systems,” noted World Renew USA Executive Director Carol Bremer-Bennett. “The roots of this application came out of an agricultural curriculum created by World Renew in West Africa in the 2000s. The COVID pandemic increased the urgency for more direct reporting mechanisms and Talmids fast-tracks our reporting on international humanitarian standards in feedback, complaints, and participatory action.”

World Renew and UCZ Zambia leadership and staff will attend UN meetings on March 14, 2023, from 8:30 am to 10 am (ET) at the Salvation Army’s International Social Justice Commission Building in New York City

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