Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to bring you blog posts written by IKEA co-workers from Switzerland and the Netherlands who are visiting Bangladesh with Save the Children.
To start things off, Shanta Akhther from Save the Children Bangladesh is here to tell us more about the challenges children face there, and how the IKEA Foundation’s Soft Toys for Education campaign is changing their lives. Here is Shanta’s blog:
In a country like Bangladesh, children with disabilities are often deprived of social support. They are highly vulnerable to violence and have very limited access to education as well as to non-hazardous employment opportunities in the future.
They are discriminated against within their families as well as in society—as society has a lot of prejudice against children with disabilities. Despite the need to work on the rights and needs of children with disabilities, there are very few resources allocated for these kids—limiting the government’s and civil society’s ability to address the issues they face.
I am so privileged to be a part of the IKEA Foundation-funded project which is implemented by Save the Children and partners to reduce children’s vulnerability to violence. The project is increasing these children’s access to services that can help them and their families. It is also fighting stigma, so they can live in a community that understands and values them. Although we started the project just six months ago, the positive changes I have seen during my visits to the communities involved are impressive so far.
The children with disabilities—who are often hidden from the outside community due to prejudice, misinformation and the shame associated with being disabled—are much more visible in the communities now. They are happily engaging in community activities specially designed to include them. I am sure the community acceptance of them will increase as the project progresses.
I know how happy our local partner organisation is to have received support for this often neglected area of work. We are very much looking forward to the visit by the IKEA co-workers, so we can show the impact the IKEA Foundation’s support has begun to create.