Please take 5 minutes to learn about the amazing process Arielle Simke and Kripa Devpura facilitated to make a children’s book on foster care. If you aren’t smiling by the end of this amazing post, we’ll be shocked.
Much respect to you all.
Ian Anand Forber-Pratt, Executive Director, Foster Care India
Written by Ariella Simke
One out of every five children in the world is born in India, making children India’s most important asset.
At Foster Care India we are aware of this, and work hard to fight for every child’s right to family. Now that we are in our 2nd year, we have the ability to tackle more projects, and get creative in our approaches. We experienced first hand through our work with the community that the members of society who are often the most accepting of social change are the littlest ones!
The idea for creating children’s awareness material first came to us while participating in an event with the ABoriginal Royal Enfield group at the Neemach Khera School in Diwali. While we handed out our brochures, 200 pairs of bright, curious eyes stared up at us, as children as young as 5 tried to make meaning out of the words on the pages of our brochures. Many of these children couldn’t even read, yet they were engaged and excited about learning. It was then that it hit us- the very people we were trying to reach, the ones who could most benefit from our awareness building, were the only ones who were being unintentionally excluded from our efforts. This made us think- how can we inform children about foster care?
By meeting them at their level.
Knowledge is power, and I believe that by creating material that is age-appropriate for children, we are enabling them to understand the level of care they should expect to receive, and the importance of growing up in a family. By educating children, we will hopefully create acceptance of the idea in the greater society, as these children grow up to be socially-aware, compassionate, and sensitized leaders of their communities. Early awareness will allow children to think about issues that are affecting them, and empower them to know their own rights, while advocating for the rights of others, now and in the future.
The process of creating our first children’s brochure started with a meeting. The entire FCI team gathered in one room and shared their ideas and beliefs about awareness material, the importance of educating children, and the best ways to create understanding. Kripa and I were assigned the exciting task of putting these ideas into action, and creating the first brochure.
We thought that the best way to get inside the minds of children was to actually work with children! So we asked Moulie and Nehal, two very brilliant 11 year olds, to come to our office and brainstorm ideas for the book with us! We all sat down in front of the whiteboard and kept the chai flowing as Kripa and I explained the concept of family based care, and our idea for the brochure. Once all questions were answered, we got to work! We brought out the biggest paper we could find, and more markers than we could carry, turned up the Bollywood tunes and started drawing. By the end of the day we had 3 fantastic story ideas. We couldn’t decide on just one, so we decided to include them all! Moulie and Nehal took away an understanding of foster care, and we had two creative and artistic minds join our team.\
Once our stories had been finalized, beautified and put through the scrutiny of some FCI team members, we stepped out of the printer’s with a shiny new draft of our brochure! It was so exciting and we couldn’t wait to share it with our target audience.
With Rajesh’s (Foster Care India’s direct practice manager) guidance, Kripa went into the community to get feedback on our brochure from children at Government Upper Primary School and a Children’s Home.
We found that about 60% of the children understood the book. It was shocking to learn that some children were not even able to read the simple Hindi. Some children were able to follow along with the pictures, while others were able to understand the entire book and the concept of foster care and the every child’s right to family.
Through the experience of designing, creating and testing the content of our brochure, we were able to accomplish two important things: Foster Care India now has our first of many awareness materials for children, and in the process, our team was able to learn about how children interpret new ideas that are presented to them. We are proud to share our children’s brochure with FCI stakeholders at all levels and we are hopeful that this new approach will spread the word about family based care to even the youngest members of society.