The End of the Road – part 2

Read “The End of the Road – part 1”

When the whistle sounds the break is over. I enter the old building, where the youngest children have their lessons. It’s very dim inside but the teacher still notices the boy in the corner teasing the girls in the row behind him.

A child writes on a chalkboard in Madagascar
©Fredrik Bengtsson
Children in a class in Madagascar
©Fredrik Bengtsson

I meet the older children in the new building. They sit at their new benches designed as smart “flat packs” by the architect Mario at UNICEF in Antananarivo.

Mario with flat-packed school supplies
©Fredrik Bengtsson

We get the opportunity to ask questions directly to the children. “What will you be when you grow up?”. One boy says, “Farmer”, whereupon all the other children laugh. It was never really clear why it was so funny. Another boy says “wood collector”. One girl says she likes math and wants to become a teacher.

Children in Madagascar school
©Fredrik Bengtsson

Role models are important in all societies, but perspectives differ. At one point we tried to describe that we have snow and ice in Sweden and that it is impossible to grow pineapples there. I try to clarify and I refer to the ice cubes, the ones you have in drinks. Do you think that made it clearer? It is difficult to relate to the outside world, also for me.

Girl draws a map of Sweden and Madagascar on blackboard
©Fredrik Bengtsson

Today is the last day on our trip. But the journey does not end here. And why not? Well, it’s very simple – as long as these children have not reached their destination, the journey is not over. A child-friendly school building is a very good start, but a sustainable future requires a focus on the entire community, the ability and desire to get to school, hygiene, trained teachers, school supplies, etc. The list of needs is long. But UNICEF is listening. And they act with incredible innovation, even with the smallest means.

Children in Madagascar
©Fredrik Bengtsson