There might not be many Japanese people who can find Madagascar on a world map or globe. For us, it feels that Madagascar is almost on the other side of the earth. I was lucky enough to go there with UNICEF, to see projects funded by our Soft Toys for Education campaign.
Maroansetra is located near the cost north-east of Antananarivo, the capital in Madagascar. There are five primary schools built by funding from the Soft Toys for Education campaign, and we visited three of them.
Anantonambilay School was one of my memorable schools on my trip. We were supposed to be there around 10 am after 1.5 hours of travel by boat and a 1km walk.
People wash their clothes, draw river water, and kids play on the riverside… I saw people enjoying the benefits of the river.
We were well behind the schedule on the river because the boat was stranded many times due of overloading and the low water level in this dry season. Finally, we decided to walk 7-8 km to the destination.
Even though we kept walking, we could not find the school after seeing the sign saying 800 meters to the school (also it says it is built by the IKEA Foundation).
I started worrying if we would get there… But, right after my thought, we heard singing voices. Children were coming to welcome us with singing.
My fear suddenly disappeared, and my heart filled with their warm welcome.
The building, desks, benches and learning tools in this school were donated through funding from IKEA’s Soft Toys for Education campaign. In conversations with children, parents and teachers, they told us that they all are very happy about the donation. Moreover, many families move to the area so their children can attend the school. As a result, the local community and economy grow. For example, new stores open in the area. I truly felt that this is exactly the result of our vision: “to create a better everyday life for the many people”.
Madagascar became a lot closer to me after such a wonderful experience.