This year’s Good Cause campaign – ‘Let’s Play for Change’ – which started on Sunday 22nd October and runs until Saturday 9th December 2017 - focuses on children’s right to learn, develop and play - a basic right for every child under the UN Convention.
The IKEA Foundation has partnered with Handicap International, Room to Read, Save the Children, Special Olympics, UNICEF and War Child to work to create safe spaces for vulnerable children to play.
Lotta, Web & Digital Manager for IKEA UK & Ireland based at IKEA Peterborough, began working at IKEA in her home country of Sweden more than 14 years ago. She credits the retailer’s active role in society as one of her main reasons for deciding to join the company.
After hearing from Christine Gregg, one of last year’s IWitness ambassadors, Lotta was inspired to apply for the programme and step outside of her comfort zone.
She comments: “I was so inspired by the children – they are just amazing. To be so happy, joyful, eager to learn and interact, it’s just incredible to see.”
During the trip, Lotta saw some of the work being done to help protect and provide access to quality education for some of the most vulnerable children in Ho Chi Minh City. She also heard some of the children’s personal experiences and visited families in their homes.
She says: “It has been a real eye-opener to see how the world is for many families and children - everything is not served on a plate. Seeing how an entire family lives in just one small room and the standard of living was hard. They have such small means and this poverty is the reality for so many.
“One of the most challenging things was trying to control my emotions, to look happy when you have tears in your eyes from thinking how brutal the world can be and how unfair it is.”
She continues: “It’s hard to understand the reality that child abuse seems to be perceived as a traditional norm and takes time to change. It’s great that awareness sessions for children’s rights are happening, but the fact that they are needed in 2017 has been challenging for me to accept.”
Save the Children works with 50 schools in Ho Chi Minh City, six of which the group visited as part of their trip. One of the first places the IWitness ambassadors visited was a secondary school, where they attended a flag raising ceremony and awareness raising event for Children’s Rights.
“If I had to choose one inspiring moment it would be when we entered the school and hundreds of children were singing and just being so joyful and full of energy. That was a magic moment.
“This trip has changed my life and I will always look back and think of it as my eye-opener. Life is not a rose garden, but we can change life for so many children and their families by taking responsibility to drive the change for a better life for everyone.”