True moments of happiness

I  thought my excitement could not be greater than it was on the first day of my journey, but I had no idea what was waiting for me the rest of the week. It was a real rollercoaster of emotions. Surprise, happiness, sadness, fear, anguish, curiosity, exhilaration… All these emotions were spinning in a circle.

Cornetu Kindergarten. By Monika Vlcek.

We have visited three new places—three new communities where the Roma population predominates. The scenes we saw were varied, but they had something in common:

  • muddy roads
  • colourful houses
  • garbage along the road and next to the houses
  • residents in tattered and dirty clothes
  • lack of rooms for the education of children.

In one of the three places we visited, the main means of transportation was horse carriages with horses or donkeys. Running water and electricity to the citizens of this place are luxury and not everyday life.

Such scenes have provoked the avalanche of heavy and dark emotions in me.

The junkyard in the neighbourhood. By Monika Vlcek.
Girls go to school. By Monika Vlcek.

But what has surprised me—what’s inspired me to think about life and prompted me to be grateful for everything I have—were the children’s smiles. Joyful children’s spirits are so vivid that they can brighten up the darkest of days. Children who have nothing and are happy like they have everything.

In their eyes you can see the glow, and on their faces you can see the flash of happiness. Only a few minutes spent with children in poor Roma communities can eliminate negative thoughts and can bring warmth to your heart.

When I saw those smiling faces, I no longer thought about garbage, poverty, mud and dirt … The smile linked us; we were the same.

The smile that connects. By Raisa Robu.
Play and smile. By Monika Vlcek.

Gratefulness for the life I live became even greater when we shared the little gifts we brought with children, such as chocolate and several small toys. The children’s faces showed so much gratitude and happiness that everyone thought: “Why do we often forget to be grateful for the little things in life?”

It takes so little for happiness and we always look for more. Often in our lives we do not recognise the little things that can bring happiness, gratitude and love.

The time spent with these children reminded me how important it is to enjoy the little things. How important it is to give a smile to someone, how important it is to give someone a nice word or to give a little something that does not mean much to us, but to somebody else can mean the whole world.

Good feelings. By Monika Vlcek.
True happiness. By Monika Vlcek.

During my IWitness adventure I have experienced a lot of emotions and gathered a lot of moments I will always remember. I’ve met the little beautiful people who reminded me of the happiness that brought me back to childhood when there was no concern—just the desire for life, love, play and laughter.

That is why I realised how important it is to provide these children with the opportunity for education, to expand their horizons, to acquire new knowledge and skills and to move away from their poor communities. These children who do not seek much, deserve everything! These children deserve both love and attention and care and knowledge and support and friendship and opportunities for progress and development.

I am grateful for the opportunity to see how the IKEA Foundation works with partners to invest their resources into the right things, children, their future, the future of all of us—the future of the human population.

These are real values! I am grateful for this wonderful journey that has extended my horizons! I appreciate everything!

The whole world in one glance. By Monika Vlcek.
Goodbye. By Monika Vlcek.
    Monika Vlcek