“Because I thought there’s now hope in life, and only then I had the courage to have my second child,” says a mother looking at her 50-day-old infant.
It’s already our second day in Mojiang, China, for our IWitness group from Taiwan and Hong Kong.
It was gloomy and raining all day yesterday, and only today has it become sunny. This actually reflected the changes of our moods, from yesterday’s not-yet-helped DaDong primary school to LongBin primary school, which has gotten help from the IKEA Foundation through Save the Children for several years now.
Our first impression: better facilities
After having class and playing interactive games with the kids, I realized that the kids here are not so shy with strangers and a lot of them are extroverted. Most of them are from Hani tribe and they are familiar with the Chinese language. Me and other colleagues saw with our eyes what kind of positive changes that IKEA Foundation support for teachers’ training and early childhood development centers brought to the kids.
After drawing a little bear in a coloring book and playing “Carrot Squats” (a traditional game in Taiwan), the kids were already sweating but they still didn’t want to take a rest. But because we have delayed 11am lunch, we had to rush and went to eat. Actually, lunch was the kids’ first meal of the day. I have never thought that breakfast can be a luxurious thing, and this was the reason why they didn’t have the habit of eating breakfast.
For the meals, all the kids lined up and got their portions one by one. Each and every one of them got lots of rice and other dishes in one big bowl. Some ate as they were walking, some as they were squatting in front of the dorm’s entrance, and some ate on the staircase. There was something in common – they were all very focused eating!
Because it takes as long as 3 hours of walking back home, most of the kids live in the dorms from Monday to Friday.
This is called “dormitory,” but it is actually a room with many beds lined up.
After counting the number of beds in the “dormitory” I asked,
“So, 10 of you are sleeping in one room?”
”No, 20 of us live here,” and I suddenly realized that each tiny bed is actually for 2 kids.
We wanted to share the same experiences as the kids, so we notified the school in advance and told them that we wanted the same lunch meals the kids were having. Four side dishes for one meal, and it cost less than 20 TWD (around 0.52 euros). But in the end, the school was generous and gave us more than we were supposed to be having.
I don’t know how sour the Yunnan dish usually tastes, but I found that during that moment, the lunch meal is particularly sour to me.
In consideration of the long trip back home, the kids were released around 1pm on Friday afternoon. According to the plan we visited two homes that actively participated in the early childhood care and development centre and “Making villagers into teachers” training program. This is also a project that the IKEA Foundation has been sponsoring for years. While we were walking, we happened to bump into the kid who drew the IKEA bear with us, and he proudly showed the drawing to us.
Next to us, there was a grandmother who was busy instructing her grandson for us to take pictures while she couldn’t help herself but laughing. I think, to her, it was like a family below the stage watching the little ones getting their rewards on stage.
The moment I entered the house, the family came to us and they put our luggage down, moved all the wooden benches as one big circle, and treated us to refreshments. It was as if the entire village promised to do the same thing. We realized that they treated us similarly when we entered their homes.
When we asked “What impacts did IKEA Foundation funding have on you or your child?” the mother with the 50-day-old infant first tried answering the question by saying “thank you” repeatedly. She then said “Only because I found there is hope in our lives now, I then had the courage to have my second child.”
Yes, this is all we wanted. We’ve seen confidence in her, and now she sees the future in her child. “It was only for our children we went to the care and childhood development center in the weekends to study and play there.” We asked, “Was it okay for your family not having your support for farming in the weekends?”
“Yes, it’s okay. I get help from my husband, and it’s enough!”
Adults have transformed, and I believe the children will be changed toward a good direction too.