It’s our second day in Luena, but we’ve experienced so many emotions that we feel like we’ve been here for much more time. When you see people smiling, it is difficult to realise that Moxico is the Angolan province that suffered most during the civil war: it started here in 1975 and it ended here in 2002.
Fourteen years have passed, but the consequences of the conflict are still visible. Schools have been destroyed, mined fields are still numerous and infrastructures are almost stuck in the colonial period. This situation is even worse in poor rural areas, like the one we saw this morning.
We visited Primary School 164 in Sacassange, around 30 km outside Luena. Here we met 700 smiling students hosted in a three-classroom school; we met teachers, parents and students. They helped us to understand their needs, the challenges they face daily and their expectations.
Many children cannot attend school because they have to go to work with their parents. Others live a two-hour walk from the school. Even the teachers face difficulties in reaching their working place because of the lack of public transport and the impossibility of affording a car. It often happens that they are late, or even cannot reach the school, because they have to walk for too long or to wait for an illegal collective taxi that departs only when it’s completely full.
Moreover, schools do not have enough funds to provide a meal and this makes pupils go back home for lunch, leaving classes earlier. Finally, crowded classes (on average 45 students per class) make learning even tougher and most lessons are done under the trees…
Hard to accept it!
But do not lose hope!
UNICEF will shortly support this school and will make a significant improvement in the lives of these children and their community, as it is already doing in the second school we visited today in the urban area of Luena (Primary School 174). This one became a Child Friendly School a year ago.
There is still a lot to do. The school needs desks and chairs for every child, fences to ensure a safe and healthy place, and a new and solid roof. But the first step has been taken and everyone is so grateful to the IKEA Foundation and UNICEF for their fundamental contribution: teachers have been trained and water is now available!
It is a long term process but we can make it!
We saw that it is possible yesterday, during our visit to the Primary School 141, where UNICEF has been supporting teachers, parents and kids since 2010.
Believe us, it is stunning to see what is possible to achieve thanks to the synergy of the IKEA Foundation, UNICEF, the government, the local partner and the community!
Proud to work for IKEA!