Video: Children shape their own future in Bangladesh

At the beginning of March I accompanied a group of IKEA co-workers to Bangladesh where we visited education projects from Save the Children for children and teenagers supported by the Soft Toys for Education fundraising campaign. Instead of seeing hopelessness, I experienced how richly rewarded I returned home. I received extra lessons in the school of life.

Video transcript:

In March 2012, IKEA co-workers visited education projects from Save the Children in Bangladesh which are supported by the IKEA Foundation.

Bangladesh is the most densely populated territorial state in the world – and one of the poorest.

“The entire country seems to be one construction site.” – Kai Hartmann, IKEA PR

In order to break the vicious circle of poverty, IKEA and Save the Children support local education projects.

Thanks to the Soft Toy campaign, 5.5 million euros have been collected in Germany alone since 2003.

In the country, children often have to walk for miles to school, the drinking water is often polluted…but still, the children and their parents exude an enormous cnofidence and lust for life.

“Soft toys for education” – since 2003, this has been the motto of the annual fundraising campaign, which donates 1 euro to Save the Children and UNICEF education projects for each soft toy sold.

Two different programmes were visited during the trip. One provides ethnic minorities access to the official education system. The other offers working children a professional education so that they are able to find a well-paid job as adults.

Approximately 1,500 euros is the cost for a five-year school and professional education for a street child – desperately needed in a country where poverty, slums and the lack of prospects is a common sight.

“Bangladesh is a country that is still under development. There’s a lot to do!”- Carsten Müller, IKEA Frankfurt

“Foreign culture and faces, but the goal is the same: being happy. Our donations give a chance.” – Julia Starke, IKEA Trading Office, Dortmund

Those who visit Bangladesh find joy and positive energy, and return richly rewarded with impressions. These people return the feeling of gratitude to the visitors from distant Europe.

In Bangladesh going to school is like winning the lottery, providing opportunities, a future and self-esteem.

“What am I taking home from here? Gratefulness that I was able to meet these people and the hope that we can improve the lives of the many with a lot of little steps.” – Silke Remmel, IKEA Stiftung

“The people gave us presents though they have nothing!”- Marija Zeljko, IKEA Ludwigsburg

“The most impressive thing is how people here realise and seize their chances.” – Anja Kalb, Save the Children

    Kai Hartmann