Helper T and the Variants: Proud mom shares story behind her 11-year-old's Covid-19 vaccine digital comic

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"I encouraged her to complete the comic in order to raise awareness about the vaccine".(Supplied/Nisha Jacob)
"I encouraged her to complete the comic in order to raise awareness about the vaccine".(Supplied/Nisha Jacob)
  • It hasn't been the best of times, but the pandemic has led to an abundance of creative expression for one local tween. 
  • With the help of her parents, Namitha "Namzi" Koshy has released three digital comics centred around the Covid-19 vaccine. 
  • Her proud mom shares her little illustrator's journey and future ambitions. 

For many, the Covid-19 pandemic meant scaling back in almost every area of life. 

For young Namitha "Namzi" Koshy from the Western Cape, however, the pandemic opened up a whole new world of expression and creativity. 

At just 11 years old, Namzi has managed to create not one, not two, but three comics, all inspired by a topic that not many of her peers - or even her older counterparts - have grasped: the Covid-19 vaccine. 

White blood cell army, Helper T and the Variants 

"Since my husband and I are both doctors, Namzi heard a lot about the devastating impact of Covid and the hope brought about by vaccines during our many conversations at home," Namzi's mom Nisha Jacob recalls. 

"We often explained the concepts we were discussing in simple terms so that she could understand our conversations and the reasons for our frustration when misinformation about vaccines was rampant."

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Thanks to these home conversations, Namzi created characters like the White blood cell army, Helper T and the Variants to explain how the vaccine works in a child-friendly and straightforward way. 



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'To raise awareness about the vaccine' 

But it would only be months later, during a moment of frustration, that Namzi showed her mom what she had made. 

"I was impressed at the understanding she showed and then checked that the information in her comic sketches was scientifically accurate. I encouraged her to complete the comic in order to raise awareness about the vaccine. Namzi then decided to digitise the pencil sketches and add colour so that the comic could be shared."

The mom took to Twitter to share her daughter's comic creation, to the amazement of friends, family and strangers alike. 

'An incredible knack' 

Jacob says Namzi has been drawing since she was five, a talent inherited from her dad, Jithan. 

"Although he is a surgeon, he has been an artist since childhood and has passed on his talent to Namzi," Nisha says, joking that her own drawing talent is "limited to stick figures". 

However, Nisha says she's convinced her little illustrator's humour and creativity comes from mom. 

"Teaching public health concepts to young medical students and advocating for improved health is part of my job, but also my passion, so I often think of creative and humorous ways to convey scientific concepts. When I share these creative ideas with Namzi, she has an incredible knack for converting the ideas into drawings with a touch of humour."

Namzi also picked up a thing or two from her mom's comic book obsession, Nisha says. 

"I am a huge comic book fan, and Namzi discovered my old Harvey and Tintin comics at the age of six. She then started creating her own simple comics based on her school experiences and inspired by the books and animated movies we read and watched together." 

The mom also credits Namzi's grandparents and her school teacher, Matthew Ackermann, for encouraging and nurturing her talents. 

"Namzi's Maths teacher, Mr Matthew Ackermann, is also a cartoonist who inspires her and has given her many tips on creating comics". 

Also read: 'They seemed magical': Local biologist shares the inspiration behind her first children's book 

'Every small contribution has an impact'

The mom shares that her young daughter already has a few ideas about what she'd like to do in future, from graphic designer, to illustrator, to running her own business. 

For now, the proud mom says she's over the moon with her daughter's contribution to such an important topic. 

"We remind her frequently that each and every small contribution has an impact". 

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