Teaching how to fish instead of giving fish

I have worked for IKEA for some years, knowing that IKEA Foundation is working closely with partners on helping children in need. I am glad to have this opportunity to join this trip with our team from Hong Kong. It broadens my vision and helps me further comprehend how we can create a better everyday life for the many people. Our destination of this trip is Udaipur, India.

Children in Anganwadi Centre Kitoda singing happily. By Kelvin Kwok.

During the trip, UNICEF provided detailed briefing and led us to an Anganwadi Centre (similar to pre-school), a school, a Malnutrition Treatment Centre and a parenting workshop. We observed and interacted with people in these locations, so we were able to see the full picture of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme in Udaipur.

Great thanks to UNICEF India and their local partners working very hard on the ECD programme since 2013. And the IKEA Foundation “Let’s Play for Change” campaign, which supported the programme in early 2017. UNICEF and local partners started with very minimal resources, confronting difficulties such as a big population, accessibility and parents’ low willingness on bringing children to school. However, it surprised me that they are now providing integrated support on health, nutrition, education, water, sanitation and child protection. And these benefit all stages of growth, from pregnant mothers, to infants, to adolescents. However, we know that there is still a long way to go to reach more children.

Having great games and a great time in Sindhu school (primary and secondary school). By Kelvin Kwok.

UNICEF helps in a sustainable way, like teaching how to fish instead of giving fish. They provide concepts, teaching materials and guidance of health monitoring, encourage home visits and organise parenting workshops. Also they train the trainers to continue these ways of education. These are brilliant and effective ways of working in the ECD programme.

However, “people” are the key to operating the programme, even if there is a great system. During the interactions with teachers and the school’s principal, we know that they are facing a scarcity of teachers. A teacher has to take care children of different ages, abilities and physical conditions in the same class. Therefore, passion, attentiveness and patience are indispensable. I understand the difficulties while I am only taking care of my daughter at home. I really appreciate their contribution and I believe the situation will be improved.

A grandfather sharing in the parenting workshop. By Kelvin Kwok.

“Because I am the head of the family” a grandfather says, when we ask his reason for participating in the parenting workshop. We are all impressed by his answer, since it is rare to hear, as men mainly concentrate on working and women take care of the family in India. It is cheerful for everyone in the parenting workshop. And we hope it will be getting better and better, and benefit more children and families.

The vision and values of IKEA are great and I love to work here, because they are fully implemented, not restricted by any borders, as I witnessed on this trip. I am deeply impressed by all the people’s passion and enthusiasm during the trip. And it is a valuable experience to me.

Kelvin Kwok