Comics to help orphans organise their lives.
A series of comics called ‘Graduates – True Stories’ was presented at the International Comics Festival ‘KomMisiya’ held at the Winzavod Contemporary Art Centre. The comics are a joint project of Social Design Studios 2GA (Aleksandr Gesalov and Aleksei Gasaryan) and art studio LMR (Hisus and Alim Belitova). The project’s aim is to help future orphanage graduates adapt to society. From the comics, orphans will be able to learn about upcoming challenges that they may face and ways to overcome them. Charity patrons, NGO’s and volunteers can learn about the problems facing graduates and based on these issues make their charity programs more effective.
Aleksandr Gesalov, chairman of KROMO (Karelian Regional Public Youth Organisation) ’Balance’, and one of the people who suggested the idea of comics, has said that “Growing up in an orphanage, children must have a realistic idea of what awaits them in the outside world.” According to him, in the majority of cases charity means distributing clothes and toys to orphans and the organisation of creative groups. At the same time, orphans need to be taught how to be self-sufficient – to learn how to handle property (they do not know that they must pay rent, do not understand the value of real estate), how to manage their finances (so they do not waste their graduate allowance) etc.
The first issue called ‘Cars’ focuses on how to spend the graduate allowance wisely. According to Gesalov, “Money can be spent on education, paying utility bills, purchasing household appliances – an iron, kettle and vacuum cleaner. There are many stories about graduates who burn their graduate allowance.” The comics’ protagonists Petya and Vasya want to be taxi drivers. They want to use their allowance to buy a car and earn as self-employed drivers. However, the two soon come to realise that nothing is as simple as it first seems.
The comics explore the main challenges that graduates face. The next issue will concentrate on graduates trying to keep their place in the orphanage. As Gesalov says, “At the slightest difficulties graduates run back to the orphanage, not even attempting to solve their problems.” Gesalov thinks that the comics will help orphans to organise their lives. He has urged benefactors to support the project, now being funded by the charity ‘Aurora’. According to Gesalov, volunteers can distribute the comics in orphanages. Specially trained volunteers can even discuss with teenagers the challenges that they may face after graduating from the orphanage. The ‘comics’ can also be used by orphanage staff as educational literature.
Translated by Lina Numan