Welcome to China!

For me it’s the first time in this huge country. I’m so impressed by the enormous size of the country. Our first two days we stayed in Kunming, a so-called middle-sized city with 5 million inhabitants. Amazing! But if you know that Beijing, for example, has 200 million inhabitants, then you can understand the naming of middle-sized city.

Also the food is something I really need to get used to. The food in Yunnan is very spicy and with lots of other spices. But it’s getting better and better…The biggest shock I experienced was when I saw a complete duck served, including head and feet.

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This morning, it was the start of our official programme. We had a warm welcome at the Save the Children office in Kunming.

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Save the Children began in 1919 and they are nowadays located in 124 countries all over the world. They stand for education, protection, survival and emergency help for all children worldwide. This fits the vision of IKEA perfectly: “A better everyday life for the many people”. This also can mean meeting the basic needs for every child.

In 1999, the IKEA Foundation started to work together with Save the Children. Since that time, many projects have been accomplished by this cooperation. IKEA donates €1 for each sold soft toy worldwide during a number of weeks. This resulted in 2014 in a return of €10 million, of which €5 million has been donated to Save the Children and the other 50% to UNICEF. As well as the soft toy campaign, Save the Children runs a lot more projects financed by IKEA Foundation, for example the cotton projects in Bangladesh and India.

We will visit a number of projects in the province of Yunnan, in the southern part of China. The theme of this project is “inclusive education”. This means education for every child, including children with disabilities. This was not common in the past in China.

There is a strong belief that integration in mainstream schools is the best way to develop and teach children with disabilities. This means that Save the Children especially focuses on developing training tools for teachers in order to meet the needs of these children in the best way (teaching how to teach). The focus is at the end to make them independent from Save the Children and get it integrated in the standard education offer.

After we went together with Beibei, Ying and Jin in a bus to Wenzhan. Wenzhan is the city where we will stay for the coming three days, to visit the schools in the rural area around Wenzhan. The bus trip took us about nine hours driving. Relatively short distances in China are, to our standard, still quite long.

We ended in a fantastic Chinese hotel with really nice food. We all enjoyed the evening very much…See the fantastic view!

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I can’t wait to visit the school to listen to their stories and meet all the Chinese school children.

Take care!

Sandra