After 24 hours spent in travelling from Italy to Angola, and a brief introduction at the local UNICEF headquarters in the capital city Luanda, we were ready to officially start our trip “on the ground”.
We woke up at 2.30am to take a flight to Luena, the capital of Moxico, the largest province of Angola. We were still sleepy when the bad weather conditions made us wake up: three missed landings and a strong turbulence brought us to Saurimo, another airport about 300 km away from our destination. Luckily, after a couple of hours, the weather conditions got better and allowed us to safely reach Luena.
Once in Luena, we were welcomed by local UNICEF staff and we met Dr Abel Jones Piqui, the Provincial Director of Education, who told us about their three main objectives:
1. Improve school enrolment in the entire province.
2. Improve the quality of education in terms of teachers’ competence and skills.
3. Improve entrepreneurship, leadership and administrative and managerial skills in the educational system.
We then visited three schools where we had the opportunity to concretely see how the IKEA Foundation supports UNICEF and the local government, in order to reach these goals.
We were surprised to find out that teaching basic behaviours—such as washing hands and food, and drinking only clean water—can dramatically improve living conditions of children and their families.
It was also astonishing to discover that you are considered a lucky student if you have toilets and clean water at school.
Among the three schools, the last we visited was a special education one for children with disabilities. This made crystal clear how fundamental it is to both train teachers and have resources to provide children with the right instruments.
What touched us the most, though, was the happy and warm welcome from the children of every school we visited. They performed songs, dances and short plays (also in sign language!) for us. It was a way to show us what they learn and to say us “thank you”. In the local Tzhokwe language, this is simply “twasakuila”!