AAAS Associate Azad Essa noticed that children’s books and materials regarding COVID-19 focused on kids living in middle class/elite environments, and failed to speak to the experience of millions of children in cramped housing or informal settlements – an issue that directly impacts the spread of the virus. Working with Nathi Ngubane (from Jozi) they created and published a story book that would be more relatable, realistic, and honest: “Duma says: wash your hands, wear a mask!”
The book fulfilled the guidelines of South Africa’s Department of Health and was recently added to their official coronavirus website and made available to the public for download. The Department of Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize shared it on Twitter and the book is currently being translated into isiZulu, isiXhosa, and KiSwahili. Given the interest and demand this one off book has generated, it’s now going to become a 3-part series with the other two books likely to focus on “learning during COVID” & “playing with friends during COVID”. The books will be designed for tablet + phone use — and they will be all free to the public.
If you would like to donate towards this project, a crowdfunder: https://www.gofundme.com/f/duma-says-help-us-educate-kids-on-covid19. has been launched to assist with the costs associated with the project (artist/illustrator, the translators, the folks who design/typeset the book, etc.) All funds collected will go to the people in South Africa working to create these free children’s books.
Paperback and Kindle versions of the book are available on Amazon and all proceeds go to the Open Air School in Durban – a school for special needs.