When it comes to people in India, there are only big numbers. More than 1.2 billion people live in the country, and about 27 million children are born there every year. For measles control, India is also thinking big. Health workers are in the final phases of vaccinating 134 million kids from ages 9 months to 10 years against measles.
Acclaimed illustrator Sophie Blackall has just returned from the holy city of Varanasi in India, where she and her daughter Olive spent a week learning the logistics of reaching so many children.
Left: Illustrator Sophie Blackall and her daughter Olive with children vaccinated against measles near Varanasi, India.
“It’s been an extraordinary week,” says Sophie. “In Varanasi alone there are 630,000 children to reach. They live in all sorts of communities – rural and urban. Some are in nomadic camps and some live on an island that can only be reached by boat. The health workers are trying to reach them all, in stifling heat, and this is an admirable task.”
How better for an illustrator to tell the story than through artwork? Sophie and Olive premiered this video at “Mom+Social“, an all-star event focused on motherhood and the role of social media, technology, and philanthropy to improve the health of moms and children everywhere. Inspired by the universal bond of motherhood, Sophie blogged about her Indian experience here (share the link and you’ll unlock $5 for immunization).
Sophie, who is widely known for the best-selling children’s series Ivy & Bean together with many other award- winning books and artwork, has spent the last year working with the Measles & Rubella Initiative. The trip to India was hosted by M&RI founding partner UNICEF.
“To know that measles is still killing about 430 children a day is really quite shocking,” says Sophie. “But to know that there is an effective vaccine that costs only one dollar per child means that we have a problem for which there is a solution. I want to be part of that.”
Stay tuned for Sophie’s next project inspired by the health workers and children of India…
You can see some of her work for the Measles & Rubella Initiative here.