At the CEFISE School in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, students know a world where meningococcal meningitis arrives on dry December winds and departs with early summer rains, leaving death and disability behind. Many of the children at CEFISE are deaf or hearing impaired as a result of meningitis.
In advance of the introduction of MenAfriVac™, a vaccine against meningococcal meningitis, we asked students to draw pictures of the world with and without the threat of this devastating disease. This slideshow features their work.
The students’ drawings share common themes. In a world where meningitis rages, children eat green mangoes, which are linked to disease since they appear on trees as the meningitis season begins and are ripe by the time it ends. Bacteria-laden dust clouds blow through the streets of villages empty except for patients clutching their aching heads or being carried on stretchers to health centers. Mothers weep; fathers dig graves. In the distance, cemeteries appear on hillsides.
In a world without meningitis, rain falls gently and trees no longer bend in the fierce wind. Drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians travel dust-free roads. Smiling villagers—including some who have grown old because meningitis has not stolen their lives—walk to the fields, work, and the market. Children have the energy to play, and the mangoes are ripe.