Head to head

Helena Persson

“Kepala ke kepala,” the teacher says. Me and the little student boy have our heads against each other. The library is filled with joy and I hear giggling all around me. Imagine what happens when the teacher says, “toe to toe”.

Me playing with the children in the library of the second school visit; SDN 7 Kesiman in Kesiman Kertalangu. Photo by Abadiken Pictures.

During these two days we visited four 1-6 grade schools in both Denpasar and Badung region. The schools are in different stages of the programme but they have all a great commitment from both teachers and the principal.

Never in my life have I felt more welcomed. As we enter the gate, the students are singing, and the drums make our entrance so intense and surreal. With a flower garland placed around my neck, I can’t stop smiling.

When the teacher starts reading the book to the children there is so much energy in the library. This moment is breath-taking in so many ways; the interaction between the teacher and the students is evident and the atmosphere in the new libraries is playful.

IWitness Atanas Kovachev captured the colourful library of the first school visit; SDN 5 in Desa Penatih. Photo by Atanas Kovachev.

It’s not hard to imagine why the children would like to go to the new library on their breaks instead of being in the schoolyard. The environment in the libraries calls for play but in another way. When the children are having fun, they learn faster and there is a connection between them and the teacher—that is clear.

Prior to the IKEA Foundation and Room to Read’s intervention in these schools, the students had a severe lack of reading materials and no access to a functioning library. Room to Read enables more children to learn how to read. Through publishing local language children’s books and stocking the libraries with these and other engaging reading materials, the organisation sparks students’ imaginations. And by helping the teachers to make the reading stimulating and fun for the children, the organisation can help them to follow their dreams.

I’m very proud and grateful to be a part of this. The moments in the school will forever be saved in my heart.

Children with hope and dreams in their eyes in the library of the first school visit; SDN 5 in Desa Penatih. Photo by Abadiken Pictures.

These children can become whatever they want. They may have to fight for it, but they are given the opportunity to know more about the world without letting go of Balinese traditions.

Literacy development is key to success in higher education and employment. The work that the IKEA Foundation and Room to Read are doing ensures that these children will have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. We asked the children what they want to be when they are older. There are no limits for these children. They have such great faith in the future and they dream and hope. I’m dreaming of meeting them again someday. To see if their dreams came through. I really hope so.

Thank you Room to Read for what you are doing in Bali and other places. And thank you IKEA Foundation for supporting these wonderful children. With support from the IKEA Foundation, Room to Read will reach more than 93,000 children like these through its Literacy Programmes in Bangladesh and Indonesia.

iWitness Anna Borén captured the children’s playful drawings in the library of the fourth school visit; SDN 2 Sembung in Banjar Pempatan. Photo by Anna Borén.

I took this picture of children in the library of the fourth and last school we visited; SDN 2 Sembung in Banjar Pempatan. The children are listening carefully to their teacher.

IWitness Anna Borén captured this beautiful wall in the library of the fourth school visit; SDN 2 Sembung in Banjar Pempatan.

IWitness Atanas Kovachev captured the drummer boys outside the library of the first school visit; SDN 5 in Desa Penatih.



Helena Persson

Helena Persson

I work at IKEA Distribution Centre in Älmhult, Sweden, as a Team Leader for our Internal haulers and Combi terminal. When I´m not working I like mountain biking together with my husband and our four children. I think the IWitness trip will give me perspective on life and the opportunity to make a difference.

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