Mothers don’t do humanitarian work” comic strip

Interview with Justine Muzik Piquemal, Léa Ducré, Benjamin Hoguet (Scenario) and Paul Gros (Drawing), La Boite à Bulles.

Cover of the comic strip “Les mères de famille ne font pas d’humanitaire” by Léa Ducré, Benjamin Hoguet (Scenario) and Paul Gros (Drawing), released on August 23, 2023 by La Boite à Bulles.


When Justine Muzik Piquemal wanted to enroll in a “humanitarian” course, she was told that it was out of the question as she already had a child. Since then, Justine has shown that it’s possible to be a happy mother of four and still travel the globe.

Justine, why did you want to put your experience into comic form?

Justine: Being a mother is a full-time job with daily constraints. But when you add humanitarian work to the mix, people just don’t get it. It’s important to let people know that you can be a mother (surely a good one) and a humanitarian. That you can travel the world and follow your children. We don’t abandon them, we’re not bad mothers… it’s a passion, they’re passions…

Benjamin and Léa, how did you go about gathering Justine’s testimony?

Benjamin and Léa: We saw Justine on several occasions over a relatively long period of time. We went to meet her at her home in Courthézon with her whole family, where we got to know Lilio, Loutsi, Aloïs and Léon, her children, and Tomas and Paul, their dads. Then we came to visit her in the Paris region, in her office or on the terrace of a café.

It was important for us to give her the opportunity to talk to us freely and over time, sometimes digressing, because it was precisely these digressions that formed the bulk of our raw material for writing the comic strip.

The fact that we were able to follow her over two years was invaluable, because as the months passed and the children’s birthdays came and went, she told us what was going through her mind. And for us, it was fundamental to be able to tell what it’s like to be a humanitarian mother with children who are growing up and evolving in their relationship with their parents.

Benjamin and Léa, why did you choose this form of gags/short stories, more portrait than bio?

Benjamin and Léa: What particularly touched us about Justine’s story was the way she told it: her humor against all odds. The way she laughs and soothes tensions. Her generosity in the face of the unpredictable.

It seemed obvious to us that the best format to make this palpable for the viewer was the chronicle. It’s a form that captures the difficulties of life as a humanitarian mother. Justine recounts her daily life, the little hurts, the big blows. And the passage of time. It’s also a form in which humor takes precedence over drama.

This is of course something we discussed with Justine, who is a great fan of this form in comics, and welcomed the proposal with enthusiasm!

Paul, wasn’t it too complicated to bring real people to life, including children? Did you try to make them look like their models, or did you take some liberties?

Paul: Above all, I approached them as characters in a story. Although I was able to talk to Justine on a few occasions (by video, telephone or e-mail), I mainly discovered the protagonists through Léa and Benjamin’s script. The dialogues they wrote were also very effective in establishing their identities.

My approach was therefore to memorize the information Justine had given verbally and integrate it into the characters brought to life through the words of Léa and Benjamin. In the context of a comic strip, it’s essentially the actions and words of the characters that give them their consistency. The same goes for the physical aspect. If my starting point is photographs, it’s above all important to me to offer a treatment in line with what the characters do and what they are within the story.

After all, an album is a fairly short narrative space. Readers need to be able to grasp characters quickly. In this sense, the treatment of characters can sometimes flirt with caricature. But a character’s narrative potential is just as important. In other words, they must be graphically adapted to what the script expects of them. You don’t want to “fix” a character in an attitude that clashes with an action instead of accompanying it. For all these reasons, my characters are perhaps more (re)compositions, linked to the context of an album, than exact replicas of Justine and her family…

Justine, in the end, do you feel that this comic resembles you?

Justine: It resembles my family and my profession, yes!


This interview was originally published in La Boite à Bulles on August 23, available here : Les mères de famille ne font pas d’humanitaire (

The comic is available online (link above) and in bookshops everywhere.


Links to press articles about the comic:


Justine Muzik Piquemal

Regional Manager, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan and Mozambique

A lawyer specializing in Religious Law, Justine Muzik Piquemal is in constant training. She began her career negotiating humanitarian access for state and de facto militaries. She is now Regional Director for Solidarités International, and is currently monitoring CAR, DRC, Sudan and Mozambique. From one country to the next, crisis after crisis, every road she travels enables her to support teams in reaching the most vulnerable.


Justine Muzik Piquemal on Défis Humanitaire :

Justine Muzik Piquemal on Solidarités International :