A children’s picture book is helping a local not-for-profit organisation fight sexual abuse and social injustices.
Hope Unending, a non-governmental organisation, gives assistance and community reintegration support to victims of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and social injustice through neighbourhood awareness and education.
RMIT Vietnam Design Studies students, Nguyen Tu Anh and Nguyen Thi Thuy Linh recently worked closely with the organisation to produce a children’s picture book for to include in campaigns and workshops in vulnerable communities. The children’s book, entitled ‘Around Us’ focuses on child abuse prevention.
The project took the students three months to execute from the first day they received the client brief. During this time, their research and involvement completely disrupted their own perspectives towards sexual abuse, a ‘taboo’ topic with a strong stigma in Vietnam.
“The proposal to create a picture book of illustrated tips for spotting danger came from my initial research… to teach children about good and bad secrets,” Tu Anh said.
The students came up with the idea of comparing safe situations to dangerous ones and includes six pairs of situations that a child can encounter in a myriad of settings, together with tips on how to react and an index for children and adults respectively.
“It’s more like a workbook. After each situation, readers will have an exercise to reflect on their own,” said Tu Anh.
“When brainstorming possible [dialogue to] be illustrated, we profiled diverse characters to demonstrate a range of genders, ages and environments. We always kept in mind the fact that children from any gender can be abused and abusers can be anyone, regardless of their gender, age, social path, family setting, level of education, and so on.”
Tu Anh considers herself to be the ‘first reader’ influenced by the project.
“I am a changed girl now. I myself had a lot of stigma when talking or discussing this [topic], just like within our society, and I always blocked out of any news related to child sexual abuse,” Tu Anh said. She recalled her surprise with the very first fact Hope Unended provided to her - over 90 per cent of abusers are people known to the child.
“We need to be informed and educated about sexual abuse, and cannot be ignorant and avoid the topic,” Tu Anh emphasised.
Thuy Linh, whose innocent and lively illustrative style played a vital role in completing the book said the project taught her “how to make an applicable creative work” and helped her “adopt a new way of looking at this type of art” that she found very useful for her future career.
To create an even wider impact, RMIT will fund the book’s mass production to circulate on the University’s campus, while Hope Unending will disseminate to the broader communities.
‘Around Us’ will also be exhibited during the Vietnam Festival of Design and Media: Hanoi 2019 – a series of educational and informative events and activities organised by RMIT University Vietnam in collaboration with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Vietnam National Institute of Culture and Arts Studies (VICAS). The festival (1-17 November) will recognise and celebrate creativity and culture in Vietnam.
Story: Ha Hoang