Children are the most important people in the world. We know that when children
are educated, encourage and empowered, they have the power to change
their lives and the community around them. Taking responsibility is a
privilege, and that is what IKEA is doing through the IKEA Foundation
and its partners like UNICEF and Save the Children.
Today we met with a really inspiring teacher named Susan in Port Loko, Sierra Leone. We had met her on Monday and she spoke only briefly to us that day—she was so intriguing that we had to come back and interview her. Susan was one of the first Sierra Leonean facilitators to be able to take part in training sponsored by UNICEF on emerging issues. This training enables teachers to identify the most significant current issues in Sierra Leone and to rise to overcome them. These issues and topics include child rights, human rights, equality for all, women’s issues, health and sanitation, deforestation and more. Teachers learn how to address these issues and to positively mentor children around them.
When we interviewed Susan, a teacher at Port Loko Primary School and a lecturer at the Port Loko Teachers College, we saw an ambassador in her. We saw someone who was inspiring, knowledgeable, caring, energetic, dedicated and animated. She really understood that children need to be sensitised towards cultural issues in Sierra Leone—that children need to respect each other and realise that they are equal, like brothers and sisters. Susan realises that if a country with more women than men fails to see the importance of quality education for female children, that society will fail them. She believes that children are the future of Sierra Leone, so they need to be equipped for the world of tomorrow, to understand that women have a place in society outside of the home, and that education and awareness can lead to empowerment.
Susan grew up in a small village and had one school uniform. She says that she owes her education and teaching career to her mother, who believed in the power of education for all children and for her daughter.
Now Susan is a role model. She practices what she preaches. She teaches friendliness, love, equality, respect—and then models those qualities herself. She takes it upon herself to educate other teachers about what she knows. Then, the knowledge is like a gift that keeps on giving. Children share their knowledge with their families and then their communities. Susan says this is how the attitudes in Sierra Leone can change and create a better society.
The parallel that I see in what Susan is doing and the IKEA Foundation’s IWitness programme is that our co-workers are ambassadors for the work that our partners are doing for those in need. Our co-workers go out into the field, see first-hand the impacts of the Good Cause campaigns and the education programmes – and take the experience back to their stores to share the good news. The good news then spreads about the importance of the successes of the Good Cause campaigns.
There is no telling how proud I am to be an IKEA co-worker when I see people like Susan—when I see real gratefulness and enthusiasm for the support that IKEA is giving their projects. We are contributing to real change in society, something that is long lasting and gives people the opportunity to help and empower themselves with proper tools and knowledge.