Hello and thank you so much for checking out this page!
My name is Bobby Ricketts and I am a Pediatric Resident at Texas Children’s Hospital currently working in Maseru, Lesotho, the capital city in a small country in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Maseru I work at a clinic where we specialize in treating children with HIV and AIDS.
One of the biggest issues we face here at the clinic is patient drug adherence. In order for HIV medications to work best, the patient must take them every day. With children especially, this is very hard to achieve. We routinely see many patients miss upwards of 30% of their doses. These patients’s long term health would be significantly improved with better adherence.
This brings me to my kickstarter project; Our Little Soldiers: a book for children living with HIV, It is my hope to produce a book that will help explain to HIV positive children the importance of taking their medications by bringing a commonly used analogy to life.
Across cultures, and in Lesotho especially, storytelling is a vehicle used to both educate and entertain. To educate children living with HIV we often employ storytelling. Over time we have found that explaining HIV through a friendly narrative is best for getting the child to understand their condition and partake in our prescribed treatment.
The story we use here at the clinic is meant to familiarize the children with the key facts about HIV and the treatment of HIV. The story of is about their “Little Soldiers”
"Inside each body live very strong and important little soldiers.These soldiers are always fighting and defending you from harmful infections and viruses.However, some children have a virus that can defeat their soldiers.Because you have this virus, we give you medicine to help keep the soldiers you have very strong and make the virus sleep.Because this virus never leaves your body, it is important for you to take your medications everyday."
While the narrative above has proven useful, conversations with kids and their caretakers in a doctor’s office can only go so far.
This is why we wish to turn this story into a children’s book.Illustrating, printing and distributingan expanded version of the “Little Soldiers” story will enhancethe effectiveness of the story.By having our message taken home in book form, we see it as a creative way to strengthen and reinforce our message to the patient. When children read it at home, it will further illustrate why taking their medications is important and support medication adherence.The book will help HIV positive children discuss and relate to their illness at home with their family and loved ones.
The book will follow two African children interacting with their parents about taking their medications. The parents explain to their children the importance of taking their medications. There will be colorful illustrations of these soldiers fighting bugs and protecting the child characters. There will be scenes that show the children doing well in school, well in sports, graduating college, and going on to have a family of their own- all with their soldiers in attendance cheering them on.
This book will go further than explaining and reinforcing our education about HIV and the importance of medication adherence; it will build and reinforce a visual allegory equating their soldiers as being key to a happy and productive life. The soldiers will be with the children as they do well in school, graduate, and go on to have successful and happy lives. It will cement in the reader that HIV is by no means a handicap to them.
RJ Matson, a talented syndicated cartoonist has agreed to illustrate the project. At present we have a rough script for the book. We hope to make the book at minimum 20 pages, but we hope to expand to 26 pages with excess funding. We have identified book printers to manufacture the book. We will do our best to make and distribute the greatest amount of books with money raised.
Many different awards are available for potential backers. They range from thank you e-mails, to copies of the book, original artwork, and getting illustrated in the book. We have tried to accommodate a large institutions or company donating to the campaign. As such, there are scenes in the book that can accommodate tastefully placed messages and or corporate logos. We reserve the right to veto any logo/messages based on appropriateness.
With the success of the campaign to date, many stretch goals have been obtained:
• >$20,000 Raised: Improved book paper and printing quality. Increase by ~4 pages.
• >$25,000- Create ancillary items to encourage medication adherence (eg book character made into stickers for patients- medication adherence charts featuring characters).
Our next stretch goal is:
- >$40,000 raised: Translate book into other languages and distribute them in clinics in countries like South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana, and Malawi.
We have even more stretch goals ready to be revealed if the occasion calls for it.
As a physician still in residency, I can in no way fund this project on my own. Moreover, this project will be in no way run for profit. With all the funds raised, I will do my very best to make sure the greatest amount of books can be made and delivered to the children that need them.
I believe this project embodies what sites like Kickstarter stand for. It is a creative project capable of great social good that could not exist without crowd funding. This book will not just educate and entertain patients, it will support medication adherence at home. And by doing this, young lives will be made better.
Please contribute, and help put these soldiers into the fight against Pediatric HIV here in Africa. Thank you!
Risks and challenges
There will be very few risks with this project as it will be contingent on a small team. I am confident a book can be made and printed by July 2014.
Challenges will be finalizing the book text and images. My current text is rough and has served more for a guide to calculate the book's length. The actual text will be done over the next few months and incorporate the feedback of experienced nurses, counselors, and physicians.
Depending on the level of contributions from people, there may be a significant amount of people being inserted into the book in cartoon form. This can take time.
Some challenges to this project depend on our eventual level of funding. If we are funded past our initial budget, we will take on the task of translating the book into other languages and distributing the book to clinics in other countries. However, I have numerous contacts in these countries and feel confident I can accomplish this stretch goal.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (39 days)