Going beyond the written word
CDL's experience has time and again demonstrated that there is a need, and a space beyond the written word which can lend itself to effective development communication. In an effort to explore these spaces, CDL has experimented with the medium of 'Comics for Development', affectionately called Devtoons. Presented through a friendly sutradhar called Pency, the experience with comics has repeatedly demonstrated the tremendous power that lies in this medium

Comics - an exciting medium
CDL began exploring possibilities for the use of comics for development through a state-level consultation on 'Cartoons for Social Change' in May 2002. Cartoonists, development activists and readers came together to share experiences of using cartoons or comics for social change, its impact, potential and spaces available at the consultation. The consultation generated optimism on the possibility of using cartoons as a medium of communication.

Starting from this seed of discussion, CDL explored the use of comics through an initiative called Comics You Can Use.

The Power of Comics
  • Visually attractive
  • Can be easily understood
  • Good for neo-literates and illiterates
  • No language barriers
  • Attractive to all ages and all educational levels
  • Non-threatening
  • Reflects local cultures and local communities
  • Friendly, colorful and simple

Comics for Awareness building
In 2004, CDL took the medium a step further and explored the possibility of the community making comics on issues they work on. In a series of focused trainings, CDL worked with children in rural children in an initiative titled, '˜It's my RIGHT to draw' and 'RIGHT Comics'. Aimed at building awareness of Child Rights, the programmes was designed not just as a drawing class, but as a process which encouraged children to reflect on their own rights, and express these through stories depicted in drawings.

Comics for Need Assessment
At another level, CDL used the medium of comics for Need assessment of children communities in the tsunami affected areas. The objective of the programme was to enable children to reflect and share on their dreams and aspirations. Through the process of drawing comics, children were encouraged to share needs, hopes, aspirations, experiences, anxieties, traumas and joys. These stories were then used to prepare comics by the children. While the children's comics were expanded to develop 20 page comics, the messages in the stories were used for strategy planning and need assessment by the NGOs. Suggestions in the stories fed into the design and planning of programmes which included the children's perspectives and needs.

The Government and NGOs provide several different types of relief and support after the Tsunami housing, clothes, toilets, TV and healthcare. Here is what the child says. My mother is always watching TV. We have only one small room in the house. I don't have a separate place to study. So I got less marks in my exams. My teacher scolded me and asked me why I was doing so badly. I told him that I can't study at home as my mother watches TV all the time. My teacher spoke to my mother and explained the situation to her. Now I started getting good marks. This story explains that sometimes relief activity also become a burden for the poor people.

Comics for behaviour change
In another application of the comics, the comic making training programmes were used for behaviour change among tribal and children from urban slums on WaSH issues. Through a creative and interactive process, the children listed out their WaSH problems as well as solutions to the same. Comics developed by the children were presented innovative responses to the problems from a child's point of view. The fact that the idea was low-cost and simple, ensured it was also doable by children and therefore also suggestive of behaviour change.

Comics for Impact assessment
Working with adults was a thrilling experience! Participants from muslim communities and CBR groups from rural Karnataka met to share experiences of success stories and empowerment. These were then made into comics on stories elicited from the participants - authentic, honest and personal. Each story demonstrated a real-life situation, intervention and impact through a comic format. Gently and unknowingly, the comics made by the community members also illustrated the real-life problems and impact of the intervention.

Stories of change for fund raising
In another innovation, comics were developed to strengthen fundraising through sponsorship. Children participated in a comic making training where they shared stories of change brought in their lives through sponsor inputs. Each story of change was honest, original and straight from the heart of the child.

Building awareness of HIV/AIDS
HIV affected children came together in a comic making programme to share their experiences of stigma and discrimination. These were then illustrated through the comic format. Each story brought forth the angst, pain and trauma faced by positive children who were victims for no fault of theirs.


'For more information write to: cdlproject15@gmail.com



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