The foremost reason for the lethargy in addressing tuberculosis is that TB is quite literally ‘out of sight, out of mind.” As people remain relegated to the rural regions of the globe, industry, political leaders, and civil society do not have to see the true cost of the epidemic. The Voices Project specifically addresses this issue.
With a combination of grassroots storytelling and the catalytic power of multiple international partnerships, Visual Epidemiology will launch a campaign that knits together hundreds of personal stories into one shared movement to make a collective impact. Though designed to expand globally, the Project will be piloted based off of the film They Go to Die by collecting the stories of 720 former miners in sub-Saharan Africa who have been “sent home to die.”
In a series of hundreds of interconnected short stories, each geo-tagged using GPS signaling, we will celebrate the lives of these men and facilitate sharing whatever they feel is most important in their lives. Completely self-directed, but with professional cinematographers, we will collect stories of sons and daughters, community, or even hobbies. The stories will be clustered by local areas but weaved together by common threads throughout the entire subcontinent. An aesthetic website will make this interactive network available to the world, and the brief but powerful films will engage the viewer to continue watching and learning about the lives of those affected by TB.
The website will be highly innovative with unique coding that allows the men to update their stories with any data-sending device and in any medium, such as a text update with a basic cell phone. This data will be paired with the men’s video story instantaneously, allowing otherwise static stories become dynamic. Viewers around the globe can see the real time story of the participating miner. Hence, if he chooses to focus his story on his newborn daughter, he can update the world when she takes her first step.
They can also input health statuses. Behind the scenes, the data input platform will also code the information sent from the miners to aggregate and flag certain inputs. – if that same miner’s daughter begins to cough, and he updates a suspected case of TB, this information will be relayed to the nearest participating health center. We will also be able to spread this data over both spatial and temporal dimensions, allowing us to track the trajectory of the health statuses.
The Project is designed to allow anyone in the world working in or affected by TB to join in to the network with his or her own story, which will similarly connect these individuals with others around the globe. By design, the Project will expand beyond the borders of southern Africa and unite the global TB community.
The project’s focused objectives and plan will provide a clear, compelling voice in the present era of social change for years to come. It will bring a voice of hope. A voice that speaks not of men being sent home to die, but that these diseases take away a life. This subtle yet important change in dialogue will refocus the conversation back to the individuals that live out the consequences of our health decisions, galvanizing the international audience to actively seek change in the TB epidemic.