Recognising Hidden Talents Through the Fight Against TB

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Young Hezron enjoys drawing and painting, a hobby that has caused him to develop a keen interest and an eye for detail in his surroundings and community. He gets his inspiration from drawings and pictures on textbooks, story books and other art. Earlier this year, his talent saw him emerge the best student in Mombasa County in the art competition titled ‘How I Will Fight TB in my Community’.

Hezron Tsuma standing and his masterpiece on a wall at Kadzandani Primary School, Mombasa County

The competition was part of a TB school health program where with the support of TB Alliance, CHS and the NTLD-Program working through county and sub-county TB coordinators, engaged school children from six high-burden counties, providing them with information on TB and distributing educational materials. Twenty schools were selected from Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Meru, Kiambu and Turkana respectively and enrolled in an essay and art competition, aimed at establishing how well the children had assimilated the information. Pupils with the top three essays and the best artwork from each county were awarded individually and won their respective schools’ different awards ranging from textbooks, storybooks, stationery, art material and a computer for the school with the winning essay.

This Class Six pupil from Kadzandani Primary School in Mombasa County did not just work on the painting for fun, but also with an aim of educating his fellow pupils and the community at large. He explained eloquently during the interview that in the painting, he was illustrating how he would fight TB in his community depicting this in three ways. For the first image, he illustrated the need for treatment adherence where he painted an image of a school pupil carrying TB medicines. The second image illustrated the need for community engagement by use of a painting showing an opinion leader educating a crowd. The third image illustrated the need for taking preventive measures such as opening of windows to allow for the free circulation of air.

His winning art work was enlarged and painted on one of the school walls. “I was excited to win in this competition, now all the students in school can easily recognise and identify with me as well as learn from the painting,” he said. During the August school holiday, Hezron and a few of his friends had a one-on-one session with the professional artist who transferred his work from paper to wall. “The artist taught us how to mix primary colours to achieve secondary colours and how to enlarge images from paper size to large surfaces like walls and banners,“ a thrilled Hezron said. He also learnt how to use logos to represent brands and how to create backgrounds on various images.

The second born child in a family of six was grateful for the individual painting pack awarded to him that included art books, coloured pencils, paint brushes and a pencil pack. The pack has allowed him to practice more painting while at home with his siblings. His mother was pleasantly surprised to learn of his win as she had not fully realised that her son was that smart and talented. “I was surprised that all along Hezron had been working on wonderful paintings, I used to see him sketch some images and thought that it was all for fun,” his mother said.

The boy who comes from an underprivileged background wants to be a doctor when he grows up, an ambition that is clearly reflected by his keen interest in matters TB. We learnt from the teachers that Hezron is equally smart academically and is always top of his class.

TB Alliance (also known as the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development) TB Alliance is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the discovery and development of better, faster-acting, and affordable tuberculosis drugs that are available to those who need them. Following the introduction of child-friendly TB medicines, TB Alliance supported Kenya’s efforts to rollout and promote uptake of these medicines.

The support from TB Alliance was towards promoting advocacy and communication efforts targeting caregivers, health care workers, maternal and child health development partners, as well as the public. The school health activity was an important component of this support as it leveraged the role of children as agents of change due to their vocal power and influence within the family setting.

 

Hezron’s painting on how to fight TB in the community

 

 

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