Soft Toys fact of the week: Ethiopia


The IKEA Foundation donates €1 for every soft toy sold in participating IKEA stores in November and December. The donation goes to Save the Children and UNICEF, and is spent on children’s educational projects.

Every Wednesday during this year’s Soft Toys for Education campaign, we’re sharing a fact about how the campaign helps our partners change children’s lives.

This week’s fact is about the work our partner UNICEF is doing in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia fact

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About Juli Riegler

Juli is the IKEA Foundation's Digital Communications Manager. Next to managing the IKEA Foundation's website and Facebook account she works closely with Save the Children and UNICEF and IKEA's yearly Soft Toys for Education campaign. She enjoys doing a lot of different sports, travelling and connecting with people from around the world.

What I learned about education in Ethiopia


 

My name is Anita Pap. I am one of the lucky people who visited UNICEF projects in Ethiopia supported by the IKEA Soft Toy Campaign. Even though my trip was six months ago, I still think about it every day.

Arrival

Arrival

One of the most important UNICEF programs focuses on education in Ethiopia. It is important that every child has access to a quality education. UNICEF focuses on teachers and the training of teachers. The continuous development of teachers is very important so children’s education quality does not fall behind other countries’ students.

A warm and welcoming greeting

A warm and welcoming greeting

One of the major problems is that not all children have the opportunity to attend school. Nearly 82 million people live in Ethiopia. About 82% of the population is found in rural areas and makes a living from subsistence farming. The children who live in rural areas help their parents with housework and work with the animals. Sometimes these children don’t have a kindergarten and nursery. The fortunate start education at the age of four, but some are not able to afford for their children to attend school when they reach the age of six. Many children drop out of school when they have finished the first grade. Over one out of five students drop out of school before reaching grade 2.

Girl at school

Girl at school

Over 3.02 million children are out of school.

European education systems are different from what we saw in Ethiopia in many ways. The children go to school in two shifts per day. The first team’s lessons start in the morning and finish early in the afternoon. These young people have lunch at home then help their parents work in the fields and around the house. The other group arrives at school early in the afternoon and learns until early evening. This team started the day with work.

Blue Nile

Blue Nile

They will learn games and rhymes in kindergarten. They get to know some new words in English and Amharic from pictures. Amharic is the local language in this region. Lessons are interactive, playfully and sometimes they try new things in practice. (For example: ball games, painting, math). The equipment is very simple, just like the environment. Often the teachers paint pictures on the wall. There are few images in the textbooks.

Farmers from the area

Farmers from the area

The biggest influence on me during the Ethiopian trip was when I saw the children and teachers’ attitude to each other. I talked with a man who works in the hotel reception where we were staying. He said to me, “You must respect three people in your life: God, Teacher, and Parents. In that order.”

It was a very incredible feeling when I saw the respectful behaviour for the teachers. The children silently sit in the classroom and watch all the movements and speech of the teacher. Most of the children who live there want to be a teacher when they grow up.

Handwashing station

Handwashing station

The teachers’ dedication to the profession and to the children was an incredible experience for us. Sometimes the teachers prepare their own materials by hand to help the children learn. The teachers are constantly training themselves because they are very important for the quality of education. One teacher deals with at least 40-50 children at the same time, but sometimes teachers can have 100 students per class. I see in their eyes their commitment and willingness to help.

There is a need for education and training. These children walk 6-8 kilometres every day in the sun and the rocky, gravel roads, sometimes barefoot, just to attend school. These kids help their parents before and after school.

Spinning cotton

Spinning cotton

We experienced during our trip one of the biggest opportunities for improvement in Ethiopia: giving children access to education. This is supported by UNICEF, the IKEA Soft Toy campaign, and the adults who earlier attended education programs. This problem won’t be solved easily.

The Soft Toy campaign is much different from other donations. For each soft toy IKEA sells (irrespective of the value), the IKEA Foundation donates 1 euro to Save the Children and UNICEF projects. This campaign runs from 2nd of November to 23th December this year. The donation will help many more children change their lives through having a quality education. The campaign has raised € 47.5 million since 2003, helping more than 8 million children in 45 countries have better living conditions.

About Anita Pap

I work as a marketing specialist at Budaors store in Hungary. I live with my dog; his name is Bunny because he has big ears. I like a lot of sports, but my favorite is Kangoo Jumps. I’m a very cheerful, smiling girl, who likes her job and life. My motto is ‘Impossible is nothing’.

Saying goodbye to Ethiopia


Before I went to Ethiopia, I was afraid of what would happen, if I would experience some of the negative things that the media presents.

Fortunately, it didn’t happen. It was wonderful to get to know the culture of the local people. I saw so much of UNICEF’s work for children. I know the IKEA Soft Toy campaign’s role in this and we can help create better living conditions for people.

It seems to me Ethiopia is a country of extremes. Some things are very nice and work well and some are bad, but it forms a cohesive whole. The people have got simple equipment, but everybody uses their minds.

I was very sad at the airport, because this week passed quickly and I was already missing my new friends. But I know I want to do everything possible to make the next Soft Toy campaign more successful. This is my new goal and now a lot of work fills all my free time, but it makes me happy to know that I can help. :)

Anita sits with students in a school

© Katrina Crew

My feelings haven’t changed; perhaps they have strengthened. I now have even more of a feeling for this place and culture. Maybe the real home of my heart is in Bahir Dar and therefore it is difficult now to say goodbye. I wanted to visit Africa and I wanted to know the differences between cultures before the trip. And now I only want to go back to my new home, to the dear people I met.

I hope I will come back and that this wasn’t last encounter with Katrina, Indrias, Solomon and other people who live there. I would like to see this country in 2 or 3 years to see how much develops. What will happen to the kids who I met in the kindergarten?

I say goodbye from you, dear blog readers. Thanks to everyone who has read my notes.

I hope I will sign up again in a few years and the adventure will continue in Bahir Dar, or somewhere else in the world. :)

Anita

IKEA and UNICEF partners in front of the Blue Nile

© Katrina Crew

About Anita Pap

I work as a marketing specialist at Budaors store in Hungary. I live with my dog; his name is Bunny because he has big ears. I like a lot of sports, but my favorite is Kangoo Jumps. I’m a very cheerful, smiling girl, who likes her job and life. My motto is ‘Impossible is nothing’.

Final farewell to Ethiopia


Well, the moment has come to say goodbye.

The trip, location, people, tastes, sounds, thoughts, moods were all wonderful. I enjoyed very much the Ethiopian everyday life and I got an insight into those places where you are allowed to enter as tourists.

This was an opportunity which we will not get twice in our life. That is why I have embraced it, and thus got a lifetime of memories for myself.

I am grateful for this journey to the organization of UNICEF, IKEA Foundation, and IKEA, who deliver the program together. In addition, I would like to thank István Bolyky, my colleague in Budapest, who provided the maximum assistance in the preparation for the trip, and to Petra Cempirkova, who organised all of the travel preparation. I could always turn to them for help,they were always willing to help me.

In this trip the most of the help was offered by Katrina Crew, Digital Content Manager from the IKEA Foundation, and she was “our mother”.

Eternal gratitude to Indrias Getachew, who organized all of the programs and provided a wide range of information. His great attitude made our days more enjoyable.

Similarly, a lot of gratitude and thanks to the UNICEF drivers, especially Solomon, because he was a sort of bodyguard when we went out in the night, and he always had a good mood, creating a great atmosphere during the time we spent in the car on our trip.

And now let’s look a little summary from our experiences:

What was unique, interesting, different from the usual for us?

    • In Ethiopia it is still only 2004, according to their calendar. It was good to be 8 years younger again for a week :)
    • Young people move only their shoulders when they dance to modern Ethiopian music, but it is incredibly fast and impressive. They smiled when we tried to do it.
    • Coffee is always filled to overflowing the cup.
    • When they drink coffee, they light incense, thus elevating the mood of the moment.
    • The local residents carry grain, with their bags and dishes on the top of their heads; they do not carry it in their hands.
    • The boys on street corners clean people’s shoes, who ask for this service.
A boy shines shoes in Ethiopia

© Sara Szabo

 

    • In paintings, if a person only has one eye, that person is bad; people with both eyes are good.
    • There are many poor people wearing a medal with the image of Maria Theresa on their neck, which is worn with great respect. The coin also serves as a means of payment, as it is silver.
A girl wears a Maria Theresa necklace

© Sara Szabo

    • If you touch a certain product at the street stalls you are no longer allowed to leave without the merchandise. If the price is not suitable for you, and you want to leave, the seller will go after you and begin to negotiate until you buy the goods at the right price, which is suitable for both of you.
    • There is carpet on the floor only in the kindergarten we saw. The kids have to take off their shoes, so the shoes are lined up outside the “group room”. Otherwise the room was empty, we could not see any other games or equipment in it.
Kids shoes

© Sara Szabo

    • At pedestrian crossings on the road cars have priority. If pedestrians are using pedestrian crossings, cars use their horn and drive in front of pedestrians.
    • Traffic lamps are rare there; a policeman directs traffic at critical crossroads.
    • Taxis are blue and white painted Lada cars in Addis Ababa. The locals say these are very strong, only they possess traction on a gravel road.
Addis Ababa taxi

© Sara Szabo

What was admirable?

    • The respect with which the children listened to their teachers during lessons. There was not any shouting or quarrels.
    • A lot of smiling, bright-eyed children
    • Their friendly manner. Almost everyone smiled and waved at us.
    • People work hard, and show strength.
    • Their attitude to work. There are very high poverty levels, but the Ethiopian people are hard workers. I took a photo from the airplane above to see a lot of cultivated plots.
Cultivated land

© Sara Szabo

  • A lot of eucalyptus trees, with their wonderful healing effect
  • Drivers watch out for humans and animals on the sides of the road. They can use the car horn in order to warn them to keep off lest they get hurt.
  • Their culture and monuments that are centuries old shine in glory. (Some buildings have not been restored, and they are still amazing).

What fills me with regret?

  • The poor lack of equipment at school
  • Many children have no shoes on their feet
  • The lack of basic hygiene (toilet, hand washing) for most schools, restaurants
  • Even with UNICEF’s help many don’t have learning opportunities
Kids feet

© Sara Szabo

That’s why I would like to finally ask everyone who has an opportunity to help during the IKEA Soft Toy campaign before Christmastime to promote children’s education, because after each soft toy is sold, the IKEA Foundation gives one euro to UNICEF or Save the Children, who spend the money on those improvements which we described in our previous blogs.

About Sára Szabó

I have been working for IKEA in Hungary almost for 22 years. At the beginning I worked in the Smaland, because I was originally a kindergarten teacher. Now I am working in the IKEA Business department. I have two sons. In my free time I usually do gardening, do some sport (aerobics, zumba, yoga), dance, read books, bake cakes, and take photos.

Water supply program in Gunda village


On Thursday we visited Gunda village and the local primary school to learn about the community water supply.

The children had a surprise for us. When we arrived they were waiting for us in front of the school in a big group with a wonderful bouquet and sang a greeting song for us. It was a very touching moment. Then they presented us with the well (and its operation) which is in a closed place and they are guarding it.

Children in Ethiopia pump water from a well

© Judit Kocsis

Child drinks from a well in Ethiopia

© Judit Kocsis

This well is very useful, because it makes their lives so much easier. Before they had it, the women and girls used to have to walk many kilometers to find fresh water, and they had to walk barefoot in a stream, so they often cut their feet on the rocks. Now the well is close to their homes.

A child pumps water from a well

© Judit Kocsis

Each family donates 1 birr ( =13 HUF, = 0,04 EUR) a month and it’s put into a bank account, which they manage, in case of problems. The well is 13 m deep and gives fresh and clean water to 40 families (on average there are seven members in a family) so it serves 280 people.

After that we visited a traditional house and household. This was very pretty. It has a living- and bedroom together. Children sleep in the living room, parents sleep on the loft and in the house is a separate room for sheep. The kitchen is in a separate building. In the kitchen a woman brought out some cotton which is used for making clothes and bags. Anita and Sara tried to spin it. It was very funny, because only Sara could do it the right way. The toilet is separate too, and they can wash their hands there. This is a very big thing, because they couldn’t do it before.

Two women in Ethiopia

© Judit Kocsis

Sara learns to spin cotton

© Judit Kocsis

A woman shows a string of cotton

© Judit Kocsis

At the end of the visit the local people entertained us for a picnic and we had an opportunity to taste some kind of beans and seeds. They made us a traditional local food (named fir-fir) which is Katrina’s favorite Ethiopian food: bread (which is rather like a pancake, but the batter is lighter) with a vegetable puree. This has an interesting taste. The bread is a little sour and the puree is very hot. I didn’t like it very much because I don’t like spicy foods. And they made for us a very tasty coffee.

A woman serves injera bread

© Judit Kocsis

A woman with dried beans

© Judit Kocsis

Children at a picnic in Ethiopia

© Judit Kocsis


Visitors eat lunch with a community in Ethiopia

© Judit Kocsis

About Judit Kocsis

I'm working as a shop assistant in the children, family and bedroom department. I'm studying art, film history and film theory at college. I will graduate this year. In my free time I take photos and make films. These are my main hobbies, but I like to read books and watch movies also.

Visiting health and business projects in Ethiopia


We had a wonderful day on Wednesday.

Early morning we went to Dera Woreda, where we could see the Health Extension Program of UNICEF.

We visited Gibtsawit health post. It gave us a sense of what Ethiopia is doing to improve health with support from UNICEF.

We heard about different services (health promotion, community-based nutrition and selected curative and preventative health services) provided at the health post.

Community health worker Misa shows her scale for weighing children

Other specific services include:
- immunization,
- diagnosis and treatment of common childhood illness such as diarrhea, malaria, pneumonia and severe acute malnutrition,
- growth monitoring for children under 2,
- community conversation,
- HIV counseling and testing among others.

While we were there, an Ethiopian man arrived and the health extension workers (Misa) took some blood in order to check if the man was infected by malaria or not. Fortunately he was healthy. Anita also wanted Misa to check her blood, but it would have taken approximately 20 minutes and we had not enough time to wait for it.

Otherwise Anita got a special tool for measuring mid-upper arm in order to see if childen and pregnant women are malnourished or not.

Community health worker Misa measures Anita's arm

We saw a labour room here, because if the childbirth is uncomplicated, women can bear their children here.

After that, we went to a primary school and observed a school health program. Here children get information, education about the basic hygenic customs (eg. wash their hands before eating, after using toilet).

A community health worker teaches kids about hygiene

Here we saw the “model farmhouse”, which was built from local materials. There is disinfectant liquid in the playground, they show the children how to cook the meals in order to be healthier.

Judit and Anita with health worker Misa in a model farm house

We went to another school. The classroom had only some equipment, which is not enough. We got information about the fact that UNICEF will impove this school with money from the IKEA Soft Toy campaign. (Now the floor is made of dirt, not concrete; the chairs, desks and roof need repairing.)

Sara in a classroom

In the afternoon we visited some business owners, who could realise their businesses with the help of UNICEF and goverment.

They support those people, who ask for help and whose action plans are appropriate for this project. We saw three businesses. One of them was a coffee shop, where we could taste the world-famous, real Ethiopian coffee.

A woman grinds coffee beans

Here we learned some interesting information:
- wages of a women, who previously worked in construction: 8 Ethiopian Birr per a day (105 HUF = 35 euro cents)
- people need approx 600 Ethiopian Birr per a month for living (7.800 HUF = 26 Euro)
- average salary of teachers: 800 Ethiopian Birr per a month (10.400 HUF = 35 Euro)

When we finished our program, we did not want to go back to the hotel, because we enjoyed this day, so we wanted to continue…

About Sára Szabó

I have been working for IKEA in Hungary almost for 22 years. At the beginning I worked in the Smaland, because I was originally a kindergarten teacher. Now I am working in the IKEA Business department. I have two sons. In my free time I usually do gardening, do some sport (aerobics, zumba, yoga), dance, read books, bake cakes, and take photos.

Visit to an IKEA Foundation-funded school in Ethiopia


Dear blog readers!

I send a message to you from Bahir Dar today, where people are very friendly. Indrias (he is a UNICEF Communication Specialist) and Salamon (UNICEF driver and helper) help us a lot. We learned some new expressions in Amharic – an Ethiopian language (for example: thank you “ameseginalew”, cheers “letenachin”, good morning “dena aderik” for men and “dena aderish” for women). We have taught them some Hungarian words – they speak Hungarian well.

This morning we went to 2 schools near Bahir Dar. We learned a lot of interesting information about student and teachers. This education system is very different from ours. Children go together between age 4 and 6 in a kindergarten before first grade, just like in Hungary. The kids are too cute. I held back my tears only 3 minutes when I heard children’s voices and they greeted our team. I felt tears running down my face. Can you imagine that situation? Everybody kept smiling, just one girl was crying. Yes, the only one was me :).

I was so happy when I sat down among them. The children showed us a traditional game and dance. Sara convinced me to sing some traditional Hungarian kids songs together. It was funny, but it seems to me children liked our small, spontaneously production.

After when we finished, Indrias said we had to go to another class. I was so sad, because I wanted to stay there with my new friends. Indrias asked the children, “What do you think if the girls stay here?” The children looked scared. 

We visited the second class where we tried to learn how to write our names.

We have experienced a lot of beautiful and incredible things, but now it`s not the end. We will experience traditional Ethiopian dancing with Indrias and Salamon tonight.

About Anita Pap

I work as a marketing specialist at Budaors store in Hungary. I live with my dog; his name is Bunny because he has big ears. I like a lot of sports, but my favorite is Kangoo Jumps. I’m a very cheerful, smiling girl, who likes her job and life. My motto is ‘Impossible is nothing’.

Why I’m proud of IKEA’s Soft Toy program


Hello. It’s Sara Szabo from Hungary. I am proud that I can work at IKEA and I am a participant of this wonderful program.

We are here, next to Bahir Dar, in a school, where we can see how teachers and UNICEF work with children, how they educate children, how they improve opportunities. It’s wonderful for me.

I’m proud of the fact that we have a Soft Toy campaign at IKEA, and that we are participants in the campaign. I will make my colleagues do their best, to sell more soft toys in order to collect more money for this wonderful project.

I would like to say thank you to everybody, that I can be here to visit this wonderful program, these wonderful children, in this wonderful country.

About Sára Szabó

I have been working for IKEA in Hungary almost for 22 years. At the beginning I worked in the Smaland, because I was originally a kindergarten teacher. Now I am working in the IKEA Business department. I have two sons. In my free time I usually do gardening, do some sport (aerobics, zumba, yoga), dance, read books, bake cakes, and take photos.

Arriving in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia


Here we are in Bahir Dar. Today were plenty of activities for us.

After breakfast we met Indrias Getachew, who is the communication specialist at UNICEF. He told us what will be our program today.

Later we went to the UNICEF office in Addis Ababa, where we heard a very interesting presentation from Ted Chaiban about UNICEF Ethiopia’s work.

Ted Chaiban

© Judit Kocsis

For example, did you know that Ethiopia is the third most populous country in Africa? And that the number of children under 5 years are 13.5 million in this country? Only 5% of them go to kindergarten.

Among other things, UNICEF is working on this issue in this country.
But we heard also about their work on:
- Young child, adolescent and woman’s health
- The importance of nutrition and food security,
- Water supply, sanitation and hygiene,
- Basic education,
- Protective environment

UNICEF presentation

© Judit Kocsis

We had lunch in a small restaurant, where we ate cheeseburgers. The roll was cold, but the meat was real meat. After that we drank very delicious mango, papaya, and strawberry juice.

In the afternoon the plane took off at 3 o’clock, but we almost missed the plane. According to Budapest time it was still only one o’clock, so we planned to go refreshing ourselves at the airport cafe. We calmly had coffee, when one of the airport staff rushed and said to us we had a few minutes before taking off and we should get on it.

Fortunately, luck was with us, we quickly passed through the necessary control and successfully reached the plane.

Finally, after a 45-minute journey we arrived at Bahir Dar, which is 578 kilometers far from the capital, Addis Ababa, and we discovered that this town is only just about 25 years old!

Ethiopian air

It is located on the southern shores of Lake Tana, which is the biggest lake of Ethiopia.

This place is like a resort, full of beautiful palm trees, oleanders, and mango trees.

After 20-minutes relaxing, we prepared a report with Indrias about his and UNICEF’s work, and we talked about the program for the next few days.

Then we made an interview with each other as well. Judy was the cameraman, the reporter was me, Anita was the interviewee. We did not forget about our Slovak and Czech colleagues, because we talked about how we would share our experiences and knowledge to all employees in the region.

About Sára Szabó

I have been working for IKEA in Hungary almost for 22 years. At the beginning I worked in the Smaland, because I was originally a kindergarten teacher. Now I am working in the IKEA Business department. I have two sons. In my free time I usually do gardening, do some sport (aerobics, zumba, yoga), dance, read books, bake cakes, and take photos.

Our day in Addis Ababa


This day was a very eventful day.

We made a tour in Addis Ababa. On Mountain Entoto (here was the first settlement) we visited 2 churches.

The first church was made by egg shell. We had to take off our shoes then we listened to some interesting stories about 4 apostles, painting methods and meanings – the huge paintings inside the church were made by natural material, for example egg, flowers, plants, and we learned that if somebody on the picture has one eye that is a bad man, if two that’s a good man. Funny thing, there was one painting which represents the devil and they covered it with a picture of Jesus.

Painting of the devil in Mt Entoto church

On the top of the mountain was the other church, called Maryam Church. We tried some instruments, one of those named “djembe”. I don’t like churches, but both were really amazing and had a very good atmosphere.

Maryam Church, Mt Entoto

In the musem we saw the king and his family’s things: clothes, jewels, it was very nice.

Then, about 4 o’clock we started to go have lunch. On this road was “the adventure of the day”. We reached the only section where it was not allowed to take photos because the U.S. embassy was there, but we didn’t see the sign, and Anita took pictures from the car with her camera. And when we passed the soldiers, they saw and stopped our car. It was very frightening becase they had huge guns. One of the soldiers took away Anita’s camera, he checked the picture, deleted it, then took away her passport too.

While we were waiting for the soldier to give back Anita’s passport, the driver told our story to all the people who passed there and everybody was laughing at us, and in 10 minutes we collected a big group :) . After they checked everything we could go away.

After lunch (it is another good story) we wanted to see the National Museum, but it was closed, so we went around in the garden. There was one of the first cars which appeard in Ethiopia.

One of the first cars in Ethiopia

Anita, Sara and Judit in front of historic car

This morning I realized that I forgot at home my cf card reader so I can not upload pictures from my camera…I hope that tomorrow we can solve my problem.

About Judit Kocsis

I'm working as a shop assistant in the children, family and bedroom department. I'm studying art, film history and film theory at college. I will graduate this year. In my free time I take photos and make films. These are my main hobbies, but I like to read books and watch movies also.