‘Engkaulah Adiwiraku’: A story book to help children cope with the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak

Milad Hassandarvish
The story book features a creature named Ario, who helps explain how children can protect themselves during the pandemic. ― Picture courtesy of Inter-Agency Standing Committee

KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 ― Just like for adults, the Covid-19 crisis has potentially sweeping, long-term implications on children around the world.

As fear and anxiety continue to be rampant in families, many experts have warned that the pandemic could have a devastating impact on children.

To help the kids navigate through the trying times, a new story book has been produced to help Malaysian children understand and come to terms with the outbreak.

Titled Engkaulah Adiwiraku, the book is a translation of My Hero is You, How kids can fight Covid-19! which has been produced by a collaboration of over 50 international organisations working in the humanitarian sector.

The project by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings is also in cooperation with the  World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Save the Children.

The story book ― aimed primarily at children aged between six and 11 years old ― features a creature named Ario, who helps explain how children can protect themselves, their families and friends from the virus.

It also prepares them to manage difficult emotions when confronted with a new and rapidly changing reality.

The 22-page storybook comprises colourful and attractive graphics to help children better understand the situation.

The original version, which is in English, was picked up and translated by Consultant public health physician Dr Feisul Idzwan Mustapha, who is also Health Ministry disease control division (non-communicable disease section) deputy director.

According to Dr Feisul, although children are less likely to be infected by Covid-19, many are affected emotionally by the drastic change, particularly due to the movement control order.

“Some may become scared and confused and do not really understand the changes that are happening around them due to the outbreak.”.

Because of that, Dr Feisul said he felt that the story book was beneficial, and quickly reached out to the publisher to volunteer to do the Bahasa Melayu (BM) translation.

“I felt that this is an important issue to be addressed.

“The contents of the book was developed based on feedback by affected children, and therefore would resonate closely with them,” he added.

During the early stages of the project, more than 1,700 children, parents, caregivers and teachers from around the world shared how they were coping with the pandemic.

The input was then used by the book writer and illustrator Helen Patuck and the project team to ensure that it resonated with children from different backgrounds and continents.

The story book has already been translated to eight languages to reach as many children as possible.

The PDF BM version of the book is available here for free.

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