It is essential to share reliable and easy to read information so that people can protect themselves against COVID-19 in the right way. "This is why Turma da Mônica (Monica and Friends) is collaborating with the United Nations," said Brazilian cartoonist Mauricio de Sousa in an interview with the United Nations Information Centre for Brazil (UNIC Rio).
Turma da Mônica has joined the Verified campaign – an initiative of the United Nations to fight misinformation about the pandemic. Since the beginning of September, cartoons relating Mônica and her friends with an educational campaign about COVID-19 are being published on all UN Brasil platforms and multiple communication channels and social networks of Turma da Mônica, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, among others. Even Cascão decided to wash his hands. Which, as fans of the cartoon characters know, is a major development.
The Verified campaign, which is led in Brazil by UNIC Rio de Janeiro, recently collaborated with Mauricio de Sousa Productions, ViaQuatro and Viamobilidade to create the exhibit "Information Saves Lives." Featuring panels and statues of Turma da Mônica, the exhibit illustrates how best to protect oneself from COVID-19. Based on accurate and reliable information on the disease from the United Nations, the exhibit will be on view from 10 October to 17 December 2020 in stations along the 4- Amarelo and 5-Lilás in the Sao Paulo metro.
“The UN has a long history of raising awareness around the world on sustainability, health and other essential topics," said Mauricio de Sousa. “We are partners with UN Women on a project to help girls reach their potential called “Donas da Rua”. Mônica has served as an honorary ambassador of UNICEF since 2007. We are also collaborating with PAHO (Pan-American Health Organization) on a number of health campaigns, including one regarding the importance of vaccinating children," he added.
“The Verified initiative is fundamental at this moment because people receive a large amount of controversial information from multiple sources and they might become confused. As the name of the campaign indicates, everything must be verified and shared from reliable sources," he said.
The campaign Together Against Coronavirus of Mauricio de Sousa Productions (MSP), has engaged with this subject since the beginning of the pandemic. The idea was to create stories using characters of Turma da Mônica to help educate people and encourage them to take preventive steps that will benefit everyone.
The cartoonist also explained how the pandemic has affected his daily routine. At 84 years of age, he works from home in Sao Paulo, where he lives with his wife and his dog, Bidu.
How are you dealing with social distancing during this pandemic?
To my surprise, I am enjoying this stay at home phase. Not that I work less, on the contrary. Being able to schedule online meetings that otherwise would have been impossible to participate in physically made me realize that we can gain a lot more time, especially time that would have been lost sitting in traffic. I am in complete isolation with my wife and my dog. It has been very nice for all us three.
What type of activity do you undertake at home to maintain your physical and mental health?
My job is fun for me because I love what I do. And in the quietness of quarantine the imagination flies, possibilities seem to be within our reach, ideas are blooming and waiting for the right time to be executed, while I follow the production work of the studio online. To my pleasant surprise, production and quality have increased, even though my studio is empty.
What has been the impact of the pandemic on your work routine?
I read a lot, I follow the material produced by Mauricio de Sousa Productions (MSP), I watch a movie every night, and I have long and pleasant conversations about work with my wife, Alice Takeda, who is also the art director of MSP. Beyond that, I eat more balanced meals, sunbathe, ride my exercise bike in front of the TV and keep in touch with my family online.
How was the experience visiting your newborn grandson?
We left home to visit him after five months of complete isolation. It felt like a dream trip, and we took all the necessary precautions. But to see that new soul coming to light, little Martin, in the middle of a pandemic, made us believe in the future.
How did the idea for the campaign “Together Against Coronavirus” come up?
We always participate in campaigns related to health, citizenship and solidarity with our characters. Monica has been UNICEF’s ambassador for over 12 years now and, Chico Bento has just been honoured with the title of ambassador of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF Brazil), helping to raise awareness and educate about environment protection.
In the case of the “Together Against Coronavirus” campaign, we collaborate by sharing information regarding COVID-19 using simple language so that it will be understood by all ages. We gathered a range of content for the website that we created. We started with the recommendations of the Ministry of Health on the prevention of COVID-19 and afterward, we produced informational guides with the help of UNICEF, Food Research Center USP (ForC-USP), My Healthy Dish (Meu Pratinho Saudável), and others to come! Everybody is globally committed to stopping Coronavirus. Even Cascão got over his fears and washed his hands.
Why is it important to collaborate with the UN on the Verified Campaign?
The UN has a long history of raising awareness around the world on sustainability, health and other essential topics. We are partners with UN Women on a project to help girls reach their potential called “Donas da Rua.” Mônica has served as an honorary ambassador of UNICEF since 2007. We are also collaborating with PAHO (Pan-American Health Organization) on a number of health campaigns, including one regarding the importance of vaccinating children.
The Verified initiative is fundamental at this moment because people receive a large amount of controversial information from multiple sources and they might become confused. As the name of the campaign indicates, everything must be verified and shared from reliable sources.
What results do you hope to achieve with this campaign among children and adults?
We all are being good citizens by taking on responsibilities to help solve the challenges that will arise. I see it with the hope of a newly transformed world that awaits us. It is important to reach as many people as possible with reliable information and simple language. And the characters can be very helpful with that.