The spirit of togetherness

It’s the last evening of the IWitness trip in Indonesia in late October 2018. Days full of activities are behind the team of IWitnesses, together with the Room to Read partners and local partner ProVisi. It’s time for debriefing, for sharing reflections, feedback and impressions. And time to say goodbye…I have a feeling that it is quite unusual while every one of us is trying to describe their personal feelings and their experience in a few key words. But once we start to talk, it is very obvious that everyone is impressed by the greatest value that we brought with us from our IKEA culture: TOGETHERNESS.

It’s been a few days full of togetherness, witnessing change, building experiences and sharing thoughts. In short, the spirit of the IKEA world is confirmed and spread by IWitness ambassadors to the many cheerful faces of children, teachers and parents.

IWitness team (IKEA Austria and IKEA Delft) Indonesia 2018 in the front of the new school library in SDN Gedangrowo Primary School in Prambon, Surabaya. Photo by Sinead Cloughley.

We come from all over the world, but we share the same inspiring vision: to create a better everyday life for the many people.

These ideas guide our work and build our inclusive, open and honest culture. It’s all based on the spirit of togetherness and enthusiasm at the heart of the IKEA culture. We are strong when we trust each other, pull in the same direction and have fun together. Because love grows with togetherness and love is the acceptance of others in our life despite many differences.

In this case, our focus is to spread the world’s need for education by supporting Room to Read’s Literacy programme in schools in Indonesia. The programme covers the gaps across three critical literacy learning areas: teacher training and support, quality reading materials and child-friendly learning spaces.

Before the trip we did not know each other, but our passion for IWitness and our uniqueness created an “IWitness DREAM TEAM”:

IKEA Foundation representative Truus Huisman, who attracts people with her great personality, calmness, wisdom and kindness.

IKEA Austria IWitness ambassadors:

  • Alexandra, who has a proactive open mind, is brave and super-enthusiastic
  • Florian, the boy with the sky-blue shining eyes who puts in a good word for everyone and everything
  • Sonja, excessively cute, smart, subtle and big-hearted
  • Ibrahim, our football superstar, loved by children thanks to his charisma to engage them in playing football and telling them funny football stories
  • Barbara, the real beauty with a perfect eye for details, our professional photograph
  • Sophie, the youngest team member, with her good observational skills and a deeply sensitive soul.

IKEA Delft IWitness ambassadors:

  • Denise, my dear colleague and IWitness partner, who was a real attraction with her Indonesian origin and knowledge of the Indonesian language, who had the incredible idea of using the drone to film our school visits
  • me, Marija, the storyteller who is very privileged to have the opportunity to take part in this unforgettable journey and share it with you.

Room to Read representatives:

  • Cicely Wootan, the best time-keeper ever, good dancer, novel sense of humour
  • Alfredo Santos, the silent genius of literacy
  • Sinead Cloughley, the young, impassioned Irish spirit with an extraordinary accuracy and a drive for perfection. She is the one who made this IWitness trip very special to all of us.

ProVisi Local partner in Indonesia:

  • Saifullah Saifullah, Rina Trhastuti and Sabrina Sarmili, the professional team of young and enthusiastic, friendly people with high organisational skills. We are really grateful for their warm hospitality.

And of course, all the other people who joined us to complete our mission under the flag of the IKEA Foundation.

Time to say goodbye. Photo by Sabrina Sarmili.

I have a plenty of questions and thoughts arising, but one idea is very clear to me. We are the ones who can make a change. It starts with me, with you, with us all together.

We are the ones who can create plenty of possibilities for many, many children. Give them a chance for inspiration and to create a better future! Even if it is a drop in the ocean, it could mean a treasure for someone.

Always keep this in your mind: giving is getting, if you give from heart to heart, you will be embraced by love and grace.

Togetherness: we are the world, we are the future. Photo by Sabrina Sarmili.
Giving is getting: Alexandra Fellner in an interesting conversation with a student from Primary school SDN Keper – Krembung, Sidjoaro. Photo by Marija Velickova.