Thoughts on our way home from Mozambique


So here we are, on a train home from the airport with baggage filled with a million thoughts and new experiences. One thing that comes to our minds is that it will take at least two generations in Mozambique before we can see a major change in the communities. The change in the way UNICEF helps the schools—it’s no longer just school materials, it’s how to use the materials in the best way, and the focus on education for teachers and the communities will be helpful.

It´s a long and hard battle to get all sides of the community—such as religious groups, social classes, schools, leaders and the people in general—to work together and to see the importance of children’s education.

We have noticed that many adults who work in shops and cafes can’t use simple math: 5-2=?. They need to use a calculator.

But it will happen, I’m sure about it. But they still need the support from us through UNICEF.

I had been unsure of what good it will do. Does the money go to the right thing, and so on? And it does. I have seen it. Even the small things that make the world for one person, like one football for a boy.

A good school can not only change the community; it can change the world!

About Tess Fallgren

IKEA Borlänge is the newest store in Sweden, and I have worked here since the opening process, August 2013. I’m 32 years young and work as a Sales Co-worker, mostly in the Bedroom department and Logistics. I love to travel and to explore new places. I worked with the Swedish army in Kosovo for six months, and humanitarian work is close to my heart. I really look forward to this trip and all the experience it will bring me. It will be the trip of my life. Ikea Borlänge är Sveriges nyaste varuhus och jag har jobbat här sedan öppning, aug 2013. Jag är 32 år ung och jobbar som säljare mestadels på sovrum samt med logistik. Jag tycker om att resa och upptäcka nya ställen. Jag har jobbat inom försvaret och har varit 6 mån i Kosovo och humanitärt arbete ligger mig nära om hjärtat. Jag ser verkligen fram emot den här resan och all erfarenhet den kommer att ge mig. En resa för livet.

How UNICEF works in the community in Mozambique


In order to learn how UNICEF works in the community in Mozambique, we have attended several meetings—not only with the local district authorities but also with partners like a local radio station and a police officer focusing on domestic violence. The most interesting for me was meeting with a school council of school employees, religious leaders and parents. Even one of the students was a member of this school council.

School council boy

School council boy

It was very interesting to hear what the council said about the support from UNICEF. He told us that he was very proud of the schools, and the biggest difference was that the school now belongs to the community and not to the teachers and principals. Personally, I think it’s really great that they are changing the way of thinking. Now they’re thinking more of how to make it better in the long term and not only day by day. Now they have well-trained teachers who follow the child-friendly programme. Not only the school councellor, but even teachers and some students were very thankful for UNICEF’s support, and you could tell that they knew a lot about how much we support them.

School council

School council

Then we got an invitation to a mobile educational theatre in a nearby village. Mobile units are present in 190 locations and in eight provinces in Mozambique. There were a lot of children in the schoolyard. For me it was very intense to watch the theatre and the documentary shown afterward because the message was so basic and obvious. The main topic of the documentary was the importance of girls’ education. One generation ago, girls weren’t allowed to go to school, and if they did they got a bad reputation. But now it is finally starting to change, and girls are as welcome in school as boys are. Probably it needs at least another generation to become more common, but at least it’s a start.

Theatre

Theatre

In that yard they also had a tent, sponsored by UNICEF, where anyone who wants can get tested for HIV and get health support and information about this virus.

children

 

 

About Hanna Widell

I am 21 years old and I grew up only a short distance from the hometown of IKEA, Älmhult in Sweden. I have worked at IKEA since the opening process of the store in Borlänge, August 2013. I am a Sales Co-Worker in all departments of IKEA. I work where I am needed the most, but my main area is the Kitchen department. In my free time I like to travel, discover and share a good laugh with family and friends. My latest adventure was to walk up the hill of the highest mountain in Sweden, Kebnekaise. Jag är 21 år och växte upp väldigt nära Älmhult där IKEA har sitt ursprung. Jag har jobbat på IKEA sedan augusti 2013 och alltså varit med sedan öppningsprocessen till det nyöppnade varuhuset i Borlänge. Jag jobbar som poolare vilket innebär att jag är säljare på alla avdelningar och hjälper till där behovet är som störst, men främst på köksavdelningen. På fritiden gillar jag att resa, upptäcka nya saker och umgås med familj och vänner. Mitt senaste äventyr var att vandra upp för Sveriges högsta berg, Kebnekaise.

Our first impressions of Mozambique


After a long and exhausting trip, we finally arrived in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. The first impression of the country was shocking for all of us, and the feeling was kind of mixed. There were barefoot children on the street and destroyed buildings next to great palaces. Every nice place that was not destroyed had at least one guard outside the gate. There are street sellers everywhere who are selling fruit, nuts, sunglasses, shoes and so on.

Here's an old and destroyed building in Maputo - By Thérése Fallgren

Here’s an old and destroyed building in Maputo – By Thérése Fallgren

After a night of rest, the programme started this morning with a meeting at the UNICEF country office. We got information about the country. Before that, we didn’t know what to expect or have any facts about the situation for children in the country. We would like to share some information with you that we have learned today from the UNICEF representative, Dr. Koen Vanormelingen:

• More than a half of the population are under 18 in Mozambique
• 6.3 % of the children can’t read or write in third grade
• One out of ten children won’t reach their fifth birthday

They might sound like bad numbers, but if you compare it to last year the numbers are getting better every day. Actually, this is one of the most developing countries in the world right now.

Here's the iWitnesses together with the UNICEF - By Hanna Widell

Here’s the iWitnesses together with the UNICEF – By Hanna Widell

After we got something to eat and could talk about all the impressions that we got during the meeting, we went to Radio Mozambique. They have radio programmes broadcast by children to children, but not only for children. They talk about issues in the country, informing the listeners about the daily life and problems, like nutrition, how to talk to their parents, child marriage, HIV and children’s rights.

When meeting all the children, we all got a very strong impression. Everyone was very motivated and confident about themselves. Their team works very hard and takes care of the whole process. Some were producers and some were reporters. They took us to the studio where they do their daily broadcasts, and they interviewed Hanna, one of the Swedish participants. It was great to see how professional the kids were. The interviewer, Mike—who was only 17 years old—was amazing! Hanna got the opportunity to answer some questions about European kids and also she could leave a message for all the Mozambique children.

Helga, Klára, Marek, Martina, Thérése and Hanna

Here's the iWitnesses and the children from the radio - By Hanna Widell

Here’s the iWitnesses and the children from the radio – By Hanna Widell

 

About Helga Kovacs

I’m a 25-year-old, open-minded and socially-focused woman who loves travelling and learning about other cultures. This is going to be my first trip to Africa, and I’m really looking forward to it, to seeing what are we working for. I hope I’m going to learn the value of our projects and see how people’s lives can get better. Egy 25 éves nyitott és szociálisan érzékeny nő vagyok aki szeret utazni és minél többet megtudni más kultúrákról. ez az első utam Afrikába, nagyon várom, hogy lássam többek között azt, hogy miért dolgozunk. Remélem meglátom az értékét a kezdeményezéseinknek és megtapasztalhatom hogyan tesszük kicsit jobbá az emberek életét.

My Africa adventure is coming


Only my way to our big trip to Mozambique!

I finally have managed to have all the vaccinations and can’t wait to catch our first plane and just be on the way. There is some stuff to manage still, but everything moves so fast right now.

Step by step we got a lot of information about this trip, like where we are going, what we will see… We still do not have our visas, so I hope everything will be fine and we will get them without any problems. :-)

On the other hand, I’m quite nervous. In Mozambique, we will meet a totally different culture, and I’m not really sure what exactly to expect.

We will just see :-)

About Klara Jirku

I`ve been working at IKEA since 2012 as a graphic desginer. At the same time, I’ve been volunteering as a guide for blind people. My other hobbies are travelling, taking photos, discovering new places and reading. I also love animals and flying :-) V IKEA pracuji od roku 2012 jako grafik. Stejnou dobu také dobrovolničím jako průvodce nevidomých. Moje další koníčky jsou cestování, fotografování, objevování nových míst a čtení. Také miluji zvířata a létání :-)

Introducing the Swedish co-workers going to Mozambique


We are Hanna and Thérése, two Swedish girls who have been working at IKEA since the opening process of the store in Borlänge in August 2013, mainly in the Kitchen and Bedroom departments. Both of us love to work with other people and are so pleased that we have been selected to go to this trip in Mozambique. We are looking forward to meeting our colleagues from other countries and to witnessing our cooperation with UNICEF.

Humanitarian work is something that we both care very much about, and the expectations are to share our experiences through pictures, movies and blogging. During our trip to Mozambique, we will see life in reality, and we hope that it will inspire us and others to work on humanitarian issues all around the world.

IKEA makes a different to the many people, and we are proud to represent IKEA Borlänge.

About Hanna Widell

I am 21 years old and I grew up only a short distance from the hometown of IKEA, Älmhult in Sweden. I have worked at IKEA since the opening process of the store in Borlänge, August 2013. I am a Sales Co-Worker in all departments of IKEA. I work where I am needed the most, but my main area is the Kitchen department. In my free time I like to travel, discover and share a good laugh with family and friends. My latest adventure was to walk up the hill of the highest mountain in Sweden, Kebnekaise. Jag är 21 år och växte upp väldigt nära Älmhult där IKEA har sitt ursprung. Jag har jobbat på IKEA sedan augusti 2013 och alltså varit med sedan öppningsprocessen till det nyöppnade varuhuset i Borlänge. Jag jobbar som poolare vilket innebär att jag är säljare på alla avdelningar och hjälper till där behovet är som störst, men främst på köksavdelningen. På fritiden gillar jag att resa, upptäcka nya saker och umgås med familj och vänner. Mitt senaste äventyr var att vandra upp för Sveriges högsta berg, Kebnekaise.

Sports are more than just fun and games in Mozambique


Our next group of IWitnesses is visiting Mozambique with UNICEF, and today we kick off with a wonderful post about how sports can encourage children to go to school—and stay there.

Anastácia Wilson from UNICEF Mozambique

Anastácia Wilson from UNICEF Mozambique

My name is Anastácia Wilson and I work as an Education Programme Officer at UNICEF Maputo. I am responsible for physical education (PE) and sports under the Child Friendly Schools Initiative. PE and sports were introduced as part of the global International Inspiration Programme, a legacy of the London 2012 Olympics, with the goal of reaching 20 countries and 12 million children all over the world, aiming to connect children with the inspiring power of sports in the run up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games of 2012.

This programme led to the revitalization of PE in schools and it is producing encouraging results. In partnership with the Ministry of Education, we successfully advocated for creating space for PE and sports in schools, and this has led to the decision for scaling up PE and sports across the country. The key achievements have been reaching out to over 250,000 children in 450 schools, training over 5,000 teachers, and developing a PE manual.

My interest in sports comes from my school years, when I actively participated in school games and festivals. I travelled around the country and made long-lasting friendships based on the values of sports: team spirit, respect, self-control, fairness and responsibility.

As we are assessing the programme through the mid-term review, even though we acknowledge that PE and sports and other components of the Child Friendly Schools Initiative have been instrumental in attracting new learners as well as encouraging retention among those already attending schools, we also realise that there are still challenges around making children learn how to read and write well.

This takes me back to my first day in a classroom. I was about four years old, and my older sister took me along as there was nobody else at home to look after me. Her teacher was kind enough to let me in and gave me a paper to draw on. I thought to myself, “This is my chance to let everybody know that I can write. It seems so easy.” So, I started “copying” what was on the board and ended up with something like four pages of “meaningless characters.” When I reached home I proudly handed it over to my mother and said, “Look, I wonder why people spend so much time in school studying… it took me just one day!” She refrained in order to avoid my disappointment, but when the news leaked, it became the joke of the year. Weeks later my father bought me a slate and my sister started teaching me how to spell. I still remember how painful it is to have something written in your language but you can’t read it.

UNICEF Mozambique - Child Friendly Schools

UNICEF Mozambique – Child Friendly Schools

There is a common consensus that among the basic learning needs, reading and writing stand out. It is a basic and essential competency for the formation of critical thinking and to have access to other knowledge and continue learning throughout life.

Teaching children to read and write is one of the biggest challenges that the education system and society face in Mozambique. Thus, I am glad that I am in UNICEF working with the Ministry of Education to promote reading and support pilot programmes to help accelerate and strengthen children’s ability to read and write. I firmly believe that if we can use sports to encourage children to go to school, then we can help them become active learners—and that will improve their reading and writing skills. Not only that, but we can teach them how to be better citizens through sharing the values of sports, such as fair play and teamwork.

I am grateful and thankful to the IKEA Foundation and to other national and international like-minded partners for their support of UNICEF Mozambique’s education programmes. Their support is a very valuable and a worthwhile investment.

Anastácia Wilson works as Programme Officer in the Education Section at UNICEF Mozambique. She is responsible for the Physical Education and Sports Component of the Child Friendly Schools Initiative. Ms. Wilson trained as a teacher at the Language Institute and has a degree in Management and Business Administration from the Universidade Politécnica in Maputo. Prior to joining UNICEF, she worked as an English language teacher and Head of Department at Escola Industrial 1º de Maio in Maputo.

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.

Seeing things from a new perspective


On this last day of our trip we are in the spirit of reflection. We all sat together and processed our different experiences and emotions. We all traveled to Africa with some idea of how the country would look like, how people work and live, and what UNICEF is doing to help the children in Africa. But the reality was quite different. Wild animals, that are located in national parks or zoos, are for us Europeans tempting attractions, but we soon realized that for the people of Malawi animals like goats, cows and chickens, from which they have year-round benefits, are much more important. The weather, with strong heat and heavy rains, affects more than just what clothes to wear. They are influential factors for crop nutrition and education of children (creating an environment conducive for learning and traveling long distances to school). We found that the role of UNICEF is not just supplying donations, but also working in close cooperation with the Government of Malawi and the people affected by impoverished and difficult conditions. Even UNICEF’s excellent schooling model alone would help Malawi become more self-sufficient if it was adapted across the country.

There are so many aspects that must be taken into account when developing programs to promote education: the fight against HIV / AIDS, malnutrition and poverty, ensure the protection of children, etc. It’s a difficult task, but thanks to the continuous work of UNICEF and more importantly, the resilient will and courage of Malawi’s population, it is proving effective and will continue to do so. For us it is surprising that the children enjoyed school, but the inherent benefits, which include uniforms, shoes, food, running water and toilets are a great motivation for the children of Malawi. Thanks in part to the Soft Toy campaign, generations of children will be afforded the opportunity to go to school and be better prepared to find a job, earn money and improve conditions of not only themselves, but also their families.

Mothers and children gathering water at a communal water pump

Mothers and children gathering water at a communal water pump

It was on the first day of our trip, with our visit to the school in Mchuchu that we quickly realized that with the help of UNICEF, the children are not necessarily learning outside under a tree, but are inside classes equipped with teaching aids. We saw that after using the toilet, they can wash their hands under running water to prevent the spread of disease. We experienced that the prevention of HIV / AIDS begins in the classroom with the inclusion of appropriate instruction and education into the school curriculum, supplemented with the distribution of condoms and other prevention programs. In addition, men are provided the opportunity to visit hospitals where they can voluntarily undergo circumcision, without cost, in an effort to increase hygiene and reduce the risk of transmission of venereal diseases to their partner.

Doctors and Nurses of One-stop Care clinic, who assist and care for children who are victims of rape

Doctors and Nurses of One-stop Care clinic, who assist and care for children who are victims of rape

Women are encouraged to bring their newborn children to a hospital for respective care and treatment. This includes free basic vaccinations and primary care. Despite these essentials, we have seen that in regards to hygiene, number of beds, and the ratio of ambulances to hospitals that Malawi still has a long way to go. But what did stand out were the coordination, effectiveness, and cohesion of all of the healthcare and educational programs.

Malawi is a very poor country, where many families live with only 12 USD per day. We had the opportunity to visit such a family. There was a mother and father with five children left struggling every day on little food and safety. Fortunately, four of their children go to the school organized by UNICEF, where conditions are better than at home, which is a small brick house without furniture, toilets and proper food.

Visit to family household

Visit to family household

Each of us leaves Malawi with the firm determination to implement the next Christmas Soft Toy campaign with even more effort than in the past because we now know from experience that every dollar, which flows to developing countries, has more value than we could previously ever imagine.

At the very end we would like to thank everyone who was involved in the preparation of our journey, including our colleagues from IKEA Czech Republic, and our friends and partners in UNICEF Czech Republic, UNICEF Malawi, and IKEA Foundation. But the biggest thanks are for the brave and hospitable people of Malawi, who let us into their private lives. Everyone with whom we spent time with were very friendly, humble and always smiling. They were very candid and openly discussed their problems without any shame. Their struggle to survive in this context was incredibly moving. Now we will never forget.

Saying goodbye to Malawi

Saying goodbye to Malawi

 

About Stázi Jakubcová

I have been working at IKEA for almost three years. I went through a trainee program at the Zličín (Prague, Czech Republic) store and Service Office. Currently I am working as Business Navigator in the IKEA Ostrava store. I like discovering, travelling and planning my sports activities but many times wind up too lazy to do the actual sports activity. V IKEA jsem 2,5 roku. Prošla jsem trainee programem na Zličíně, Servisní organizací a momentálně pracuji jako Business Navigator v Ostravě. Ráda objevuju nové věci, cestuju a plánuju svoje sportovní activity (na samotný sport jsem příliš líná)

A School without Soft Toys


Does an IKEA Soft Toy really make a difference towards the Educational system in Africa? I arrived to Malawi in hopes to seek out an answer to this question. The Mchuchu Primary School that we visited earlier this week exemplified the successful support UNICEF has provided through the Schools for Africa Program. Mchuchu Primary provided the children with clean latrines, comfortable seating, a safe environment and overall a positive atmosphere for learning. But until I stepped into Phanda Primary School, a school that does not benefit through the Schools for Africa Program, I never would have understood the dramatic differences.

A student dance and drama performance, by Natasa Njegovan

A student dance and drama performance, by Natasa Njegovan

Phanda Primary School was built in 1919 and to this day, the structure of the school remains as is. There are seven classrooms and only two are in good condition while the other five have cracking walls and struggle with leaking roofs. With 1,223 students, Phanda Primary is unable to provide desks or chairs forcing the children to learn sitting on the ground and even outside under trees for large classes.

A teacher in action! By Natasa Njegovan

A teacher in action! By Natasa Njegovan

Child Friendly Schools are required to contain clean and accessible latrines as well as access to clean water. Phanda Primary is equipped with separate washrooms for both boys and girls however, they provide little to no privacy, unsanitary conditions and most importantly no wash station. For an adolescent girl a sanitary latrine is one of the key drivers to staying in school creating an increase in drop outs at Phanda Primary.

Unsanitary female latrines, by Natasa Njegovan

Unsanitary female latrines, by Natasa Njegovan

Despite the conditions at Phanda Primary there’s still an inspirational vibe within the community. Phanda Primary receives an immense amount of support from their “Mother Group” who encourages adolescent drop outs to return to school. They provide counseling and support to those girls who have had babies and been discouraged. Functional Literacy Programs take place in communities to help assist those drop outs and teach them to read and write for nine months. This way whether they decide to return to school or not they are at least literate.

Viola and I practicing Chichewa with a group of students, by Jennifer Huang

Viola and I practicing Chichewa with a group of students, by Jennifer Huang

Although UNICEF is not a donor to Phanda, UNICEF has combined forces with the UN on the Joint Program for Adolescents and Education. This is a scholarship program aimed for adolescent girls awarded by the District. Phanda has 21 girls benefiting from the scholarship, 5 of those have returned after having a baby.

Phanda Primary School faces a lot of challenges. The poor learning conditions prevent many students from excelling or even enjoying school. “Iwitnessed” the drastic difference our Soft Toys for Education Campaign makes in African Schools. A Child Friendly School is not just about gaining materials but empowering our children to grow. I look forward to instilling my passion for the Soft Toys for Education Program when I return.

Children excited to be on break! By Natasa Njegovan

Children excited to be on break! By Natasa Njegovan

About Natasa Njegovan

When it was announced that I would be travelling to Malawi as an ambassador of IKEA I was speechless. I feel honoured to have the opportunity to visit UNICEF, an organization known worldwide for providing a better life to our children. Arriving in Canada at a young age, I grew up watching my parents struggle in this new and foreign country in order to provide for us. This upbringing triggered my interest in local charity work starting in my elementary school years. Since I began my IKEA career I have been able to bring my community involvement and passion for children’s causes right into my workplace.

“Azongu! Kongola!”


In the morning, we gathered in front of our hotel, once again full of anticipation and exhilaration. Our plan was to go to a school two hours away in southern Malawi. Along the way we saw many local markets, herds of goats and cows, stray dogs and crowds of people who were either carrying goods on their heads or had them on carts being pulled by donkeys. We stopped at one of the gas stations to replenish our bottled water, which caused quite an upheaval as group of young boys from the marketplace, who were selling eggs and donuts, ran over to us shouting, “Azongu!”, which means “white”. We greeted each other and took some pictures. Afterwards, we continued on our way and arrived shortly at the primary school in Chikwawa.

With the young boys from the marketplace

With the young boys from the marketplace

Upon our arrival at the school we were welcomed by the director, Chiwanda. He told us that the school was founded in 1919 and that some of his previous students received government posts as ministers or officials. There are 3 surrounding schools that also send their students to complete their studies here. The school has 1,223 students, including 650 boys and 573 girls. The school has 10 teachers and one intern, and there are 7 classrooms. Unlike the schools we visited on Monday, we’ve seen dilapidated sections of the building, with classrooms of children learning outdoors under the trees. Also, there are not enough houses for the teachers who remain here through the week and the toilets do not meet the basic needs of the teachers or students. Basically, it consisted of two separate buildings, one for boys and one for girls, in which there were always five toilets, which were essentially holes in the ground. There is much more that remains to be done!

In the school

In the school

In 2010, UNICEF introduced a new program at the school that focused on education of girls. The members of the program are chosen by “Community Mothers” and their selections are then approved by local officials who are responsible for social affairs. Currently, this program includes 21 girls, aged 12 to 19 years. Girls in the program will receive a uniform, school supplies (pens, notebooks, textbooks- from government programs, children receive only one pen and one workbook for the school year, which is not enough), and shoes. The shoes can be motivation enough for involvement because many students lack shoes but need to walk long stretches on hot roads to attend classes.

Girls with uniform

Girls with uniform

One of the students, Dorothy Joseph, who after attending the UNICEF program entered high school, spoke with us and said that the biggest obstacles to participating in school is physical distance, forced marriages, pregnancies, and that their teachers are only men, who do not always understand the needs of girls and their problems.

Dorothy

Dorothy

One of the main endeavors of the “Community Mothers” is to try to convince girls, who have left school, due to pregnancy or early marriage, to return to study.

Nzhoteka - Is it possible

Nzhoteka - Is it possible

UNICEF’s efforts here do not end at traditional education, but they also facilitate youth clubs where children can meet others and learn. There is also sex education of youth, which provides counseling and information about contraception. Additionally, they support children by empowering their parents through adult literacy centers where, during a nine month program, adults can learn to read and write and become self-sufficient.

At the end of our visit, children danced and acted out a play for us, which focused on the issues surrounding early marriage. Afterwards, we presented two suitcases full of notebooks, pens and pencils to the Headmaster, for which he responded with a cry of, “Kongola”, or “beauty”. With that we went on our way back to the hotel. On the way, our adventurers, Stázi and Máca, decided to visit a local market where they purchased some souvenirs and local delicacies, sticks of sugar cane.

"Kongola!"

"Kongola!"

We cannot wait to see what the next day holds for us!

Children saying goodbye

Children saying goodbye

 

About Petra Stejskalová

I am 28 years and was born and, to this day, still live in Prague, Czech Republic. Six years ago, while studying sociology at University, I started working at IKEA as a part time co-worker in the Kids Corner (Smaland). Later I moved to the store Marketing department . Today I work as the Direct Marketing Specialist for the CZ/HU/SK IKEA region. I am really into music – I love bigbeat, rock, punk, ska, rock’n’roll, rocksteady and psychobilly. My hobbies besides music are attending my small garden, my young foxterier dog and the history of the 20th century. Travelling to Malawi will be a great challenge for me but I am looking forward to fullfilling my African dream! Je mi 28 let, narodila jsem se a stále žiju v Praze – v hlavním městě České republiky. V IKEA jsem začala pracovat asi před šesti lety na částečný úvazek. V té době jsem ještě studovala vysokou školu, obor sociologie. Později jsem nastoupila do oddělení marketingu v obchodním domě a dnes pracuji jako Direct marketing specialist pro region CZ/HU/SK. Ze všeho nejraději mám hudbu – poslouchám bigbeat, rock, punk, ska, rock´n´roll, rocksteady a psychobilly. Ráda pracuji na naší malé zahrádce, mám mladého pejska foxteriéra a zajímá mě historie 20. století. Cesta do Malawi je pro mě velkou výzvou a těším se, že si splním svůj africký sen.

We built a what?


When I imagined the results of the Soft Toys for Education campaign in Malawi, I thought, “Great! I wonder if we built schools! We probably bought books! Maybe we supplied some uniforms!” You know what you get when you put together a building, some books, a teacher and students? You get a building, some books, a teacher and students. But when we layer in UNICEF’s Child-Friendly Schools Framework, ah, then the magic happens.

Viola Mah and Stazi Jacubcova meeting Mchuchu primary students - by Jennifer Huang

Viola Mah and Stazi Jacubcova meeting Mchuchu primary students - by Jennifer Huang

There are over a dozen specific characteristics of a Child-Friendly School (CFS). Mchuchu Primary School near Lilongwe, Malawi is one of the schools supported by UNICEF’s Schools for Africa program with a full CFS package. One of the highlights of our tour was the brick outbuildings which were Mchuchu Primary’s well-maintained latrines. Because proper latrines and hand-washing facilities promote physical health (CFS point 9) so that learners do not miss school. Plus, segregated latrines acknowledge that girls also attend school and must be provided for (CFS point 4). And menstruating girls are less likely to miss school or drop out if the school has private facilities (CFS point 4).

Two Mchuchu primary students using the school's hand washing taps - by Natasa Njegovan

Two Mchuchu primary students using the school's hand washing taps - by Natasa Njegovan

Beyond the classroom, teacher and books, the whole community plays a part in educating a child. Mchuchu Primary’s Parent-Teacher Association collaborates to be family-focused (CFS point 12). Additionally, the school has the input of a Mother Group: 10 women nominated from surrounding villages to advise girls especially on remaining in or returning to the schooling system (CFS point 2). These women act as the eyes, ears, voice of the school in the village, and represent their village when they meet at the school. It is a community partnership focused on the well-being of the children (CFS point 13).

Listen to your elders - Mchuchu Mother's group and PTA members await us - by Viola Mah

Listen to your elders - Mchuchu Mother's group and PTA members await us - by Viola Mah

The saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child. I’m learning that it takes so much more to educate that child.

Nseba a young Malawian - by Viola Mah

Nseba a young Malawian - by Viola Mah

 

About Viola May Mah

Hello & Bonjour from Canada! I have worked at IKEA Edmonton for 16 years now, from Sales to Logistics and now in Operations as the Business Navigator. Along the way I have made many friends, learned a little about home furnishings and a lot about myself. I am married with two children, the most important people in my world. When I can find spare time, I like to cook and I like a good story. I try to run a little and I try to sail a little.