IKEA Social Initiative has teamed up with UNICEF to provide much needed supplies, including pre-fabricated schools, as children living and studying in temporary shelters affected by the May earthquake are experiencing increased hardship due to the onset of winter.
"The support from IKEA Social Initiative will be crucial in helping us to continue our efforts for children in Sichuan and Gansu," Dr. Yin Yin Nwe, UNICEF China Representative said. "Six months after the devastating earthquake struck there is still much to be done, and IKEA Social Initiative is stepping in with both long term and short term assistance that will really make a difference in children's lives."
The earthquake has left more than 5 million people homeless, making the winter season a struggle. Since October, the government of China has appealed to the whole country to donate warm clothes and quilts for people in the quake zones.
A joint UNICEF and IKEA China field trip found that less relief has reached the remote mountainous areas of southern Gansu, the second worst hit province after Sichuan. In some schools, students still have to study in unstable mud-brick classrooms with large cracks in the walls and partially caved-in roofs
More than 6,500 schools have been damaged in the province. As winter takes hold from November to March, temperatures plummet in this remote area. It is of vital importance to provide the affected children with basic necessities and ensure a safe environment at home and at school.
UNICEF has procured and installed 72 prefabricated classrooms to serve more than 4000 students from 29 schools in Xihe county of Gansu province. Through its donation, IKEA Social Initiative has provided the educational materials, school furniture, and libraries for these schools. To extend the initiative even further, IKEA Social Initiative is supporting the construction of another 30 prefab classrooms for 10 schools in the county.
IKEA Social Initiative has also made an in-kind donation earlier this year to UNICEF for urgent needs of boarding schools and relocated students in Sichuan. The supplies include 7,000 school bags, 10,242 sleeping bags, 20,000 bath towels, 45,000 bed sheets, and 30,000 sets of dishware. They have been distributed to Wenchuan, Deyang, Mianyang, Guangyuan, Aba prefecture, and Ya'an in the quake epicenter.
"We are working against time to ensure no child misses out on quality education during the reconstruction period," said David McLoughlin, UNICEF China deputy representative. "These prefabricated units will last at least three years, allowing sufficient time for permanent structures to be built by the government. Having a classroom will help bring children back to their normal routines."
IKEA has supported UNICEF programmes for more than 10 years in Asia, Africa and the CEE-CIS through philanthropic donations, social investments, sales of UNICEF Greeting Cards, cause-related marketing promotions and in-kind assistance. IKEA is a recognized leader in striving to protect children's rights and eliminate child labour in its supply chain.
(China.org.cn December 22, 2008)