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Since seventh grade, Oge C. Ogbogu ’24 has been volunteering at Camp Crescent Moon, a camp for children with sickle-cell disease in Southern California. Over the years, Ogbogu saw firsthand the impact that sickle-cell disease had on young children and the general lack of understanding surrounding the disease. In hopes of raising awareness about sickle-cell disease, she employed her passion for storytelling. In 2021, after a year of writing, Ogbogu published “Discovering Crescent Moon: A Journey with Sickle Cell Disease.”
In an interview with The Harvard Crimson, Ogbogu recalls a formative moment when she first volunteered to organize the sickle-cell walk. Making the walk possible involved a community of people coming together, which Ogbogu found to be a formative experience.
“There’s so many different elements at play,” said Ogbogu, “like making sure you have all of the water stations, making sure you have the cover of medics and medical equipment necessary for students, in case anything happens,” she said.
In the process of writing the book, Ogbogu explained that she looked towards her relationships with the children she worked with to find inspiration. “All of them are just amazing, like sweethearts, and have so much energy and passion in a lot of different ways,” she said.
Ogbogu was particularly drawn to writing a children’s book because of the accessible range of possibility within the medium. “Things that, being older, become more complex, that feel scarier to discuss, or harder to imagine — I personally think it’s easier to imagine when you’re writing a children’s book,” she said.
In writing a children’s book, Ogbogu also placed an emphasis on life lessons that parents can teach their children at a young age by reading to them. “It becomes an engaging and interactive activity that I think can really bring people together in a different way than just an individual novel does, or individual person,” she said.
“Discovering Crescent Moon” was initially a project for Ogbogu’s Girl Scout Gold Award — the highest Girl Scouts award, earned by developing and carrying out long lasting solutions to community issues. Though the pandemic halted Ogbogu’s progress for this award, Ogbogu did not give up on her book; she continued writing, seeking experiences from her friends from camp, camp counselors, and hospital facilities to inform her writing.
The biggest challenge in the process, she recalls, was directing illustrations to represent her vision.
“The actual writing I think, was actually the fastest part of it because I had really been thinking about it,” she said. Ogbogu added that the disproportionate impact of sickle-cell disease on Black and Hispanic populations was a big part of what she wanted to bring attention to in the book.
Ogbogu discussed the intentionality behind the selection of her main characters to reflect these affected populations. Ogbogu highlighted the importance of representing Black and brown characters by accurately representing aspects such as hair textures. Unfortunately, Ogbogu also recalled having to go back and forth with people trying to whitewash different aspects of the story.
“I would love just the fact that kids who read it can see different aspects of themselves in the story and feel represented in the story and have a story written about them,” she said.
In the future, Ogbogu hopes to pursue a career in medicine and use writing to advocate for social change and ideas. “Writing has really been the way that I've been able to communicate my thoughts on medicines and infrastructures of health,” she said.
Driven by her passion for creating positive change in the lives of children affected by sickle-cell anemia, Ogbogu aims to continue exploring the intersection between medicine and storytelling, with the ultimate goal of making a tangible difference in the lives of those living with this condition.
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