“What problems do you see among your community?” we asked our young, HIV+ friend.
Her answer: “The problem is that young people don’t know enough about HIV, and they don't want to talk about it. Even when they have received some education, they still don’t want to take their medication, and they consider their diagnosis a death sentence”
We need more tools to help adolescent educators broach the subject of HIV with their peers.
What would be the best format? We settled on a book, because, although it may seem old fashioned in the world of swiftly developing technology, graphic novels are extremely popular in Bamako, and the shared experience of flipping through a book together will give our peer educators the opportunity to open up about this complex topic.
Now, how do we make a book for teens? First, we had to put together the ideal teen team!
Koura is our project advisor. As a high schooler in Bamako, she sees first hand how much her classmates avoid the topic of HIV and the tragic health consequences when an HIV+ friend stops taking their medication.
Ella is our writer. A high schooler in Providence, RI, she is developing the text of the story and getting feedback from HIV doctors to make sure all the information is accurate. Faced with endless information on the virus and symptoms, she is working hard to create an honest and uplifting story that will inspire other teens to care for themselves and regain hope.
Lynnette is our illustrator. Soon to graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design, she’s a recent teen (although teen no longer!) who will be putting the life and action into the story. We’ve included some examples of Lynnette’s sketches as she works on developing the characters, and more of her dynamic and colorful art can be found on her linked website.
Excited for the final product? So are we! And we’re excited to get this book into the hands of our teen educators in Bamako.
Your support can help fund printing costs for the graphic novel, and we’ll keep you updated on our progress!