URIDU is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that empowers rural women in developing and emerging countries. It was founded by Felicitas and Marcel Heyne.
Born in Germany in 1966, Felicitas Heyne is a well-know psychologist and author of various books. Ever since she started her studies, empowering women was her most heartfelt desire. For many years, she volunteered for a Women‘s Rape Crisis Abuse Center, supporting survivors of sexual assault, abuse and domestic violence.
The key moment to start her own project to empower women worldwide came in 2014, while watching a documentary from the German journalist Claus Kleber: „Hunger!“ In one scene Kleber visits a small rural village in India and there he finds Chaya, a little girl of about 1,5 years, close to death, very weak and all skin and bones. Her mother explains that she has been trying to feed her, but that the girl has been refusing to eat. Shocked, Kleber leaves his observing position as a reporter and decides to take action. He and his team carry mother and child to a nearby health center. The health workers do nothing but feeding the little girl with some spoonfuls of sugared water to provide her with enough energy for chewing and swalling normal food. And after a few hours, the little baby girl already starts to eagerly eat some pulp.
The simple action of instilling sugared water into Chaya here had made all the difference between life and death. No costly operation, no expensive medication needed. Just a few spoonfuls of sugared water. A remedy that had been within reach of the mother all the time - but she had no idea that this might save her daughter‘s life. „Most of the women here are illiterate“, explains one of the health workers this horrible situation in an interview. „No one shows them how to take good care of children or how to plan their family.“
Shaken to the core by these images, Heyne and her husband, an economist, started to delve deeper into the topic. 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? It took them a year of extensive research and brain-racking, then the idea for their URIDU project was born and on the way.