Food For Mzansi today lifts the veil on “Thandi and Captain Stay Safe”, a special covid-19 podcast series to help children and their parents deal with uncertainty during the long-drawn-out coronavirus pandemic.
The podcast series, which includes a two-part children’s story, can be downloaded or streamed for free on most of the world’s leading podcast platforms, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. For the grownups, there will be no less than five daily episodes dealing with all sorts of not-so-awkward questions about children and the virus which has brought the world to a standstill.
“In the first few weeks of the lockdown, we realised the urgent need to help our readers help their children make sense of this madness,” says Food For Mzansi co-founder Ivor Price. “So, with the help of Jan Louwrens, an 11-year-old robot inventor we developed a cartoon series called The Battle of Covid-19. Every week our readers are spoilt with a new cartoon in which Captain Stay Safe, our very own superhero, educates kiddies about the virus in all 11 South African languages.”
The response has been phenomenal, remarks editor Dawn Noemdoe. From Germany to Botswana and all the corners of Mzansi, Captain Stay Safe has been making waves. “I guess part of the magic is that the story outline was not cooked up in our newsroom. It comes from the amazing young mind of a grade 5 learner who is equally scared by the faceless virus and also really frustrated that he hasn’t been able to see his friends in three months due to the lockdown limitations. Kiddies will love our new podcast children’s story too.”
Now Captain Stay Safe is traveling the country along with Thandi, a new character in the podcast story especially written for children aged 6 to 11. The fictional children’s story is proudly South African, and features various towns, including Reitz in the Free State and Riemvasmaak in the Northern Cape.
Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore says, “All over the world, children’s lives have been completely upended – most of them living in countries with some form of restricted movement or lockdown. Stories can help children understand and navigate this new landscape and learn how they can take small actions to become the heroes in their own stories.”
Price says, “The heroes in Food For Mzansi’s podcast story are Captain Stay Safe and Thandi, a brave little girl. But ultimately, the true champions are young South Africans who are doing their best to keep themselves and their loved ones safe from the coronavirus. We created something new that will speak to a culturally diverse audience.”
“I think it turned out ok, especially because the Food For Mzansi journalists cannot act to save their lives,” adds Louwrens, a learner of Paarl Boys’ Primary School in the Western Cape.
“It was a lot of fun to hear that they actually recorded an entire children’s story just using WhatsApp voice notes. I even get to play a little role, and best of all is that I get to play myself. One of Thandi’s friends is a boy called Jan. I think my parents will be very proud of my acting skills. I also have my own business called Baggo Apparel where my robot designs are printed on T-shirts. Maybe I should add Captain Stay Safe to the available T-shirt list.”