Creating smiles around the world

I am Rabin Dash Pariyar. But everyone calls me Robin. I am from Nepal and I have been working for IKEA Japan for a year. This year, we are privileged to be a part of the IKEA IWitness programme. We flew from Japan to Kathmandu and from Kathmandu to eastern Nepal Damak, representing IKEA Japan.

Nepal is a very beautiful country with mountains and hills, but also a country that needs support. It is still an under-developedcountry, facing many challenges itself. There are also refugee camps, which many people do not know about. The people who live there left Bhutan during 90s. And they are just waiting there for decades for things to happen, for things to change. It is really heart-breaking when you can’t go back to where you were born and raised. But with the help of IKEA’s Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign, we have been able to help people to live better lives around the world. And this time we are in Nepal to find out how our campaign, and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) with the help of IKEA Foundation, is helping these people to live a more sustainable and better life.

There were seven camps for refugees in 2007, which were located in the eastern side of Nepal, in Jhapa and Morangdistricts. UNHCR has this resettlement programme, which led them to resettle more than 90% of the refugees to othernations. There are now only two camps in eastern Nepal—Sanischare refugee camp and Beldangi refugee camp. Out of approximately 108,000 refugees, 12,119 still reside in those camps today.

Two kids on their way back home after finishing school. I asked them if I can take their picture—they were shy and made this wonderful pure smile. By Robin
Two kids on their way back home after finishing school. I asked them if I can take their picture—they were shy and made this wonderful pure smile. By Robin

It is 29 November. Today, we went to visit Sanichare camp inDamak. Since it’s been more than two decades that people have been living in those camps, the camps looks lot like a huts. The huts are entirely made up of bamboo. And it was a surprise for us that they are engaged in different sort of activities to make their earnings and livelihood, like sewing and knitting.

She was knitting this beautiful door-like curtain. By Sencho
She was knitting this beautiful door-like curtain. By Sencho

Today, we also got the opportunity to visit the school that has been made solely for refugees, and the host community’s school. Since IKEA believes that children are the most important and venerable, UNHCR, with the help of the IKEA Foundation, has been able to give them a quality education and other facilities to make their life a lot easier. And as we visited the host community’s school, it was bit of a surprise that children studying in the refugees’ school are studying in entirely bamboo huts. However, the quality of education they are getting is just the same as the host community’s school.

When we entered the classroom, these kids were full of energy and they were most interested in learning English. By Chris Williams
When we entered the classroom, these kids were full of energy and they were most interested in learning English. By Chris Williams

This is an eye-opening trip for me. The way these kids were smiling and cheering made me feel that it became possible only because of all the co-workers working in IKEA around the world. Though just four of us got this wonderful and emotional opportunity to witness this experience, as we were standing there facing these kids, right in front of us, I could feel all the IKEA co-workers behind me witnessing the smile and happiness that we brought into their lives.

So I would like you to give big hands for ourselves who made this possible, with IKEA and the IKEA Foundation. And let’s do more than what we are doing now, to make our campaign more successful. Not just throughout the campaign but throughout the year, because the smile you just saw on the top of this blog was for you!

We were visiting the new construction of classrooms going on for a science lab and library funded by the IKEA Foundation. By Sencho
We were visiting the new construction of classrooms going on for a science lab and library funded by the IKEA Foundation. By Sencho
NAMASTE! This is how they greet in Nepal. From left Noriko, Sencho, Robin and Akiko—the IWitness team from IKEA Japan. By Chris Williams
NAMASTE! This is how they greet in Nepal. From left Noriko, Sencho, Robin and Akiko—the IWitness team from IKEA Japan. By Chris Williams