Mayu by Anne-Marie Dufour, Inbal Rief

'Mayu' has been our first project for 'Viz for Social Good'. We were challenged to spread awareness about the global water crisis and the work done by ‘Vera Aqua Vera Vita’ (VAVV). VAVV is a non-profit organization helping Peruvian communities get direct access to clean water.
We began this project with two questions: how can we create an empathic and positive story, and how can we truly engage our viewers? Our main goal was to turn an impersonal and scarce dataset into a data-empathy story for children.

One in five children worldwide lacks access to clean water (UNICEF). “No-water” communities face a high risk of children getting sick, missing school, or meeting life-threatening situations. Yet, how many of us know this or act upon it?

We created ‘Mayu,’ a mobile-first project and perhaps the first data-empathy coloring book designed for children. Mayu’s story illustrates the water crisis of seven communities in need in Piura, Peru, and how VAVV changes their lives. This data project aims at stimulating young viewers’ empathy so they can reflect on and even comprehend the scale of the Peruvian water crisis.

Our major challenge in this project was translating scarce data into a lively visual language and narrative. To achieve this, we designed graphical objects, like interlocking Lego bricks, to illustrate our data. With our visual bricks-library, we created six illustrations for each of the seven communities, each with unique data attributes like: population scale, number of hours of school missed per week, distance from a water source, number of contaminants found in the water, and VAVV’s solution to bring clean water to each community. The illustrations were then combined into story-based compositions to convey specific information about each community. Our data and data illustrations (visualizations) live in those explanatory compositions.

Another significant challenge was how to create ‘Mayu’ with a mobile-first approach, which is often overlooked in digital visualizations.

‘Mayu’ is a bilingual social campaign in English and Spanish. Children can participate by visiting the website, printing the stories, coloring them, and organizing fundraising activities for their classes, among other things. Mayu’s online visualizations will gradually come to life whenever a campaign is launched for one or more Piura communities, taking on color and movement to reveal the fundraising progress. The fusion of minimalistic illustrations with intricate colorings was designed to encourage kids to make their own illustrations!

Because VAVV’s campaign is still in the early stages, the coloring and animation of the visualizations are not yet active on the official website. We invite you to see how the communities come to life on this separate instance: and in our media folder.

“From a distance, it’s easy to forget the dots are people” (Jake Harris). By zooming in, we experience impersonal data becoming personal.
It’s time to act!

*Mayu’s character was illustrated by Anastasia Khmelevska