You prefer children in other countries, right?

– Photo by Gabby Lee

This is what my 12-year-old son said to me when he was discharged from hospital after having stayed there for a week because of acute tonsillitis. It was the day before my departure for Cambodia for the IWitness programme.

I am one of the eight IWitness ambassadors representing IKEA Taiwan; we all come from different departments and families. In order to select IWitness ambassadors for this year’s program, IKEA Taiwan held an internal competition asking interested coworkers to “tell us why you should be selected as our IWitness ambassador.” In just a few weeks’ time, all kinds of creative application materials were received, including articles with deep emotion and beautiful writing style, self-written, directed and performed videos, and an 89-page-long PowerPoint self-introduction. Finally, the anticipated new group of IWitness ambassadors was selected by IWitness ambassadors from last year, while being envied by everyone!

Photo by Queenie Mak
– Photo by Queenie Mak

I would like to thank our partners from Save the Children—their enthusiasm is as overwhelming as the 32-degree hot weather outside. Just a few hours after we landed, they had already given us a detailed presentation on the three major projects the IKEA Foundation and Save the Children are working on together in Cambodia—providing aid to poor families, offering support to children with physical or mental challenges, and introducing positive discipline to schoolchildren and their families, teachers and communities.

Photo by Roxy Cheng
– Photo by Roxy Cheng

We started in Phnom Penh and went all the way north. We spent at least three hours on the road every day to visit different schools and learn about their specific needs. We also met children with disabilities from different families, and learned that they are always supported by a group of enthusiastic teachers and parents. We also met ethnic minorities in remote mountains. Despite living in a wooden shelter without power supply and facing a tough environment, a six-grade girl still told us, “Thank you so much,” with a big smile on her face as the sun was going down. She said she really loves going to school.

I always think the sunset behind her that day was much more heartwarming than the famous sunset at Angkor Wat just a few kilometers away.

Photo by Roxy Cheng
– Photo by Roxy Cheng

When my youngest son was hospitalised last week, I would tell him again the story of his older brother having stayed in the same hospital when he was little. He would share his discovery with me—the three-year-old little boy in the same ward likes to ask his mom to take him out to see the little dinosaur painted on the wall of the corridor. We would roll the drip stand on wheels and idle around in the children’s wards.

- Photo by Roxy Cheng
– Photo by Roxy Cheng

“You prefer children in other countries, right?” I know he wasn’t really angry or jealous when he said it. He knows that our annual Soft Toys for Education campaign will not only add more fluffy friends to his bed, but also help more children have the chance to go to school with joy every day just like him. Why do I know that he wasn’t really angry or jealous? Because I remember he once told me that when his teacher taught them that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” with some short stories, he felt he was so blessed, and he wants to make more people become blessed and stay blessed.

    Roxy Cheng