It’s three o’clock on Saturday morning. We are waiting at Dubai Airport for our flight back home and this could be the right moment to start summing up our journey.
Even if it has been a short experience, with only three days “in the field” in Angola, we have had a very intensive schedule and we all felt impressive emotions. Day by day, we have raised our knowledge and awareness about children’s situation in Angola. We all felt, and still feel, a great sense of solidarity with the people that we have met during these days, from UNICEF representatives, to the kids in the schools, their parents and the teachers.
Listening and, especially, “looking” at their stories, their needs and their difficulties gave us a deeper comprehension of their life. If you are not there, it is difficult even to imagine. We experienced sensations we will carry with us forever and we are looking forward to sharing them with our colleagues, families and friends.
This morning we spent our last hours in Luanda with the UNICEF team to discuss what we experienced during our journey. We were all amazed by the great job UNICEF is doing in this country, also thanks to the support received from the IKEA Foundation.
It is not all about providing material support (such as building infrastructures, learning materials and so on), but it is also about finding a new strategic approach to change the attitudes and the mind-set of the local people, from children to governmental institutions.
For sure, this is a long term challenge that requires passion, dedication, commitment and perseverance. These are all characteristics that we found and admired, every day, in all the UNICEF team members that shared with us the entire experience. We want to gratefully thank all of them, especially Carlos, Desirè, Niko and Teofilo. They have shared with us not only their knowledge, but also their points of view, their emotions and some pieces of their lives.
During the whole journey we experienced many different emotions at the same time: disbelief, happiness, tenderness, solidarity, joy, anger, helplessness, pride, trust…and many others that made our involvement very intimate, unique and unforgettable in our minds and hearts.
Believe me, it is very difficult to explain how we felt and how we feel right now. However, we can say that something extraordinary happened, something that got us close to each other in the IKEA team, and to all the people we met. A “big-big” thank you to my new IKEA friends Camilla, Michela, Luca, Andrea and to Elisabetta from UNICEF Italia, a fantastic person that made our experience even more fantastic.
Thanks to the IKEA Foundation for giving us the possibility to live such an amazing journey with the IWitness programme. This is something each of us should experience once in a lifetime. We all feel very proud of what the IKEA Foundation is doing in supporting people in different countries.
At this stage, I really feel “upside-down” and I need some time to give a more appropriate frame to all my feelings (I am sure this is also true for my companions!). Nevertheless, right now I can say without a doubt that our journey to Angola was something incredibly important for our personal growth and our will to do more to support children in Angola and everywhere else. This is not the end, it is only the beginning!