"My work as an illustrator is so meaningful to me. Drawing stories in the dirt allowed me to escape during a very difficult time in my country’s history. Now I hope the books I’ve illustrated not only get children interested in reading, but also provide adventure and joy."
-Chase Walker, Children’s Book Illustrator, Graphic Designer, Photographer
I grew up in Liberia while my country was at war.
My sister and I attended school, afraid that we would have to suddenly flee, never knowing if the conflict would force our school to close.
Many did. And now, almost an entire generation is illiterate.
Sitting under a tree, I would draw stories in the dirt. This was my way of bringing my ideas to life and expressing myself.
I would draw to escape my reality – much like reading a book – but there were no books around. There was nothing to do but wait for the war to stop and for the situation to improve.
Thanks to your support, I had the chance to work with CODE. I discovered from those stories that I drew in the dirt that I had a natural talent as a children’s book illustrator. My career has continued to evolve, and now I’m also working as a graphic designer and photographer!
When I met CODE's Liberian partner, the WE-CARE Foundation, I was given the opportunity to illustrate four books with vibrant images that reflect Liberian culture.
Seeing the first copies of the finished books was amazing. My little sister was so proud of me and what I had accomplished that she brought them to school one day, bragging about them to her friends.
When I have the chance to do something that gives back – I take it. So I was delighted when I was asked to travel to neighbouring Sierra Leone with CODE to help local illustrators create books just like the ones I worked on.
It was wonderful to see how eager and talented the illustrators were. They saw the books I worked on and said ‘if you can do this, so can we!’ It was one of the most satisfying things I've ever done.
Your support will help CODE’s partners like the WE-CARE Foundation develop and distribute books to children like my sister. She is just one example of a child who learned to read through CODE’s support of classrooms and community libraries. But there is more to do.
This holiday season there are thousands of children who still don’t have access to books – some have never seen, let alone held a book in their hands.
When you give, you’re sharing the gift of opportunity and empowerment by providing books to children around the world, helping them learn to read and inspiring them to read to learn.
I hope you’ll join me in your support of CODE - creating locally produced books for children in Africa is so important and will help provide an escape for children in very difficult situations.
Chase Walker is a Liberian photojournalist, political cartoonist, and graphics editor for FrontPageAfrica-the award winning Liberian online newspaper. He is also a former refugee, having fled the fighting in Liberia in 2003.
Chase credits working with CODE to illustrate books for Liberian youth for jump starting his career. He is now a journalism fellow with New Narratives, a Liberian based organization that aims to support and encourage journalists in Liberia, and has recently been an Exchange Visitor at the prestigious Newhouse School of Journalism at Syracuse University (USA).