Creating a better life – page by page

“Parents reading to their kids is not our habit,” explained Sabrina, ProVisi Education Programme Co-ordinator upon meeting us. Our first day in Surabaya was full of new learnings and laughter.

The IKEA Spain and IKEA The Netherlands teams with the Pro Visi and Room to Read representatives. Photo by Ibrahim Eroglu.

With three flights and nearly 24 hours travel time under our belts, we—the IWitness Team Austria 2018—finally arrived in Surabaya. Indonesia’s second largest city greeted us with friendly smiles and lots of ‘Selamat Pagi’ (good morning) and we met it with great anticipation.

Today we finally got to know the representatives of Room to Read who are supported by the IKEA Foundation, together with their local partner ProVisi Education, and we learned all about their amazing work on literacy in Indonesia.

“Reading is not our culture and parents reading to their kids is not our habit,” explained Sabrina, ProVisi Programme Co-ordinator. The work of Room to Read and their local partner includes the production of children’s books as well as the creation of child-friendly libraries. The goal is to foster a life-long habit of reading among young children.

Children’s books in Bahasa, the Indonesian language, by Room to Read authors and illustrators. Photo by Barbara Mitchell.

“Reading should be fun and the library a haven for the kids to learn and explore,” emphasised Sinead, Development Associate (Room to Read). We were very surprised that this also means a mind-set shift for teachers and parents alike.

We were given the chance to meet two strong women – Dian, a book author, and Eva, an editor, who both found a passionate mentor in Alfredo Santos of Room to Read.

Editor Eva and author Dian, together with their mentor Alfredo Santos from Room to Read, explaining their books to Alexandra Fellner, IKEA Austria. Photo by Barbara Mitchell.

Through his workshops, the women changed their approach to creating children’s books. They now regard kids as kids and not as mini adults. “I can now focus on writing books and make a living out of it,” added Dian.

To experience first-hand how Room to Read guides the authors, we were invited to do a small book workshop ourselves. With a lot of fun and laughter we created storylines and got hands on with clay to bring our main characters to life.

IWitness team and IKEA Foundation members were given the opportunity to do a book workshop together with Room to Read. Photo by Barbara Mitchell.

Selamat Tinggal! Tomorrow we will be able to meet the first children who will benefit from Room to Read’s work and get the chance to read books with them.