Before the trip: a thousand questions!

My parents always told me that we should be grateful for what we have. I was born and raised in a country where we don’t have to worry about not having enough food or ever having to live on the street, or not being able to provide a good life for our children. Unfortunately, many people all around the world are not that lucky.

The culturally diverse city of Mae Sot is located on the border between Thailand and Myanmar. Photo by Google maps.

Since I started earning my own money, I have donated a small part of it to different non-profit organisations. And from time to time, I receive little brochures explaining what projects are being followed through with those funds. However, now I have the amazing opportunity to see with my own eyes how one organisation is turning the financial support into actual help. I am going on an IWitness trip with the non-governmental organisation Humanity & Inclusion, spending some days close to the border between Thailand and Myanmar.

Being very curious and excited to be able to see this, I ask myself at the same time: will I be shocked seeing people whose life is not as good as mine in reality? Are the projects of IKEA Foundation and Humanity & Inclusion sustainable and long-lasting? How will I interact with children whom I don’t understand and who have gone through tough times? Furthermore, I wonder if I can also really change something with my small contribution? Or is it just a drop of water on the hot stone?

Packing for the IWitness trip. Photo by Alex Brühlmann.

I believe that if every single person is doing something small, we together change the world for a better future. I have been thinking about the obvious actions: take public transport, use less water when showering, sort waste, don’t throw away food, switch off the lights when you don’t need them, travel less by plane, reduce the use of plastic, eat less meat, reuse clothes, print on both sides of paper, and so on.

I am convinced that all of us can reduce our ecological footprint massively without having the feeling of being compromised in our lifestyles. However, recently I have not been fully sure if these small actions are enough and truly make a difference.

Moreover, I am wondering if it is necessary for me, as an individual, to focus more on a specific dimension which my actions should influence. If so, it is clear for me that I would like to contribute to a future where children all around the world have the chance to live a good life.

Umpiem Camp is located in the midst of jungle-covered mountains, on the border between Thailand and Myanmar. Photo by Alex Brühlmann.

I am—and I think so are my colleagues—very excited about our trip to Mae Sot. Around 60,000 people live in the two camps we will be visiting (there are 45,000 people in Mae La camp and 15,000 people in Umpiem camp). More than half of them are younger than 18 years.

One of the most important tasks that the projects in the camps fulfil is to create opportunities for the children to play. Every child in this world should have the right to play. To support this during our trip, we have prepared some activities for them: drawing and decorating Swedish maypoles; origami sessions; creating small instruments out of paper cups. We have chosen activities that also children with disabilities can participate in.

No matter what experiences this week will bring to us, I expect them to be life-changing for me. In return, I hope to be able to evoke some change as well—for a better life for children.

We were all given an IKEA Foundation backpack for our essentials. Photo by Alex Brühlmann