In May of 2016 University of Colorado Denver (UCD) illustration student Melisande Osnes accompanied SPEAK founders Chelsea Hackett and Beth Osnes to Tanzania to share our vocal empowerment program with the organization, Maji Safi. Melisande worked with young women who are part of t the Female Hygiene project to illustrate a book on their mentor’s path towards vocal empowerment (Linda Arot). Melisande facilitated several art sessions and then designed a coherent book true to Linda’s life story using graphic design drawn from their own sketches and designs. A copy of the completed book was then gifted to each young woman working towards vocal empowerment to inspire her continued progress.  

Since Melisande’s trip was funded by an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) at UCD, she presented on this project on April 28th at the UCD UROP Fair. Also in attendance was Eliza Hezron who was our translator in Tanzania and who was visiting Denver at the time. Together, Eliza and Melisande shared the story of how art can be utilized to share the story of vocal empowerment for young women. Melisande shares “The learning objective for the young women was to learn how they could use creative artistic expression to further their understanding of vocal empowerment. The girls accomplished this plan, seemed to understand why they were doing it, and felt proud of the finished project. The learning objective for me was to gain skills facilitating groups, to create a cohesive product that stayed true to their art as well as elevating the artistry a book that truly told the story of Linda’s voice. I made new friends with many of the girls and was proud of the final project that we all worked so hard to create.”