Gina writes:

The SOVA office has two buildings. One building holds the staff offices. In the other building, the canteen is on the bottom floor and training/conference rooms are on the top two floors. Groups come from outside SOVA for trainings or meetings about twice each week.

This week, there was a 5-day workshop with children that was particularly interesting. About 30 children that are part of SOVA's sponsorship program were invited to learn how to draw comics. The objective was to teach the children a way to express their problems and come up with their own solutions. Village children have to fight to get the education, food, and care that we take for granted in the U.S., so it's understandable why they need a way to communicate that makes it easier to bring these important issues to light.

The first two days taught the basics of drawing - lines, then shapes, then stick figures, then facial features. The kids were really into it.

On day 3, they thought about how they could use their skills to show a problem that their village was having and a possible solution. The kids came up with a lot of ideas:

--the school is too far away, but if I had a bicycle, I could attend.
--the river is unclean, but if the whole village has a clean up day, we would all keep the area clean.
--the teacher is not coming to school to teach us, but if our parents talked to the education bosses, the teacher would be forced to come.

On day 4, they worked in groups to draw full-color 4-panel comics. Their was an exhibition on the last day and the kids were so proud to explain their work.

This panel shows a village with an unsanitary water source (notice the open defecation!). After a village meeting, the village decides to have an all-village clean-up day. The kids think that if the whole village contributes to the clean-up, then everyone will be proud of the job they did, and the water source will stay clean.

Follow-up with the kids will find out how many of their neighbors and friends they taught to draw comics and will ask for further stories from the kids.

One thing that was nice about this workshop was that the kids were so focused on drawing and the trainers didn't introduce us or make a big deal that we were there, so we could truly be silent observers, something we rarely get to do here. Corey and I have decided that we'll try to poke our heads into more of these workshops and meetings, just to get a better grasp at the creative ideas that SOVA is using for development.