“If you got lost on an island and had to make your own home there, how would you want it to run?” This was the question posed to a group of Namibian children by Pact staff members. Pact is constantly striving to take that which is complicated, distant and daunting, and make it simple, understandable and workable. It is with that philosophy in mind that Pact undertook the task of producing a document that presented the standards for Namibia’s residential childcare facilities in an easily accessible way to our beneficiaries – Namibian children.
Under the USAID-funded REACH project, Pact strengthened the capacity of the Namibian Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare (MGECW) to effectively coordinate activities relating to gender equality and orphans and vulnerable children. In working with the MGECW, one of the early byproducts of this project was the development of minimum standards for Namibia’s residential childcare facilities, which are nationally and internationally recognized, and recently highlighted by UNICEF.
However, after developing these standards, one obstacle still remained: “How do we disseminate this information to the children that need it, and ensure they are aware of these standards?” It was out of this question that Modern Heroes comic was born. Pact organized participatory weekend workshops at a Namibian childcare center, and helped a group of kids adapt and combine their own stories to create a comic book that was engaging and informative.
The story follows seven characters that find themselves shipwrecked on an island. As they work to create a new home together, they are forced to come to terms with the needs of the group versus the desires of an individual, and learn to work together and acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Throughout their journey, the characters continuously build a list of rules (standards) on how they want their home to run, which is the mechanism by which the standards are conveyed to the reader.
This comic is just a small example of how Pact is thinking of innovative ways to be more accountable to our beneficiaries, and building local solutions to complex development problems.