Lisa McNiven lends a hand to Myanmar children

Lisa McNiven says she was inspired by her Myanmar visit. Picture: Contributed
Lisa McNiven says she was inspired by her Myanmar visit. Picture: Contributed
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Lisa McNiven, has just come back from a life-changing trip to Myanmar to see the result of fundraising charity work at first hand.

Ikea Edinburgh marketing specialist Lisa McNiven is determined to make the firm’s Soft Toys for Education Campaign the most successful yet after a trip of a lifetime.

She was one of only five Ikea employees to make the journey to Myanmar and has been working hard to raise awareness of the problems children there face by sharing her experience with customers and colleagues.

The Soft Toys for Education Campaign raises funds from the sales of Ikea soft toys between 18 October and 19 December for educational projects run by Save the Children and Unicef around the world.

Lisa wants this year’s Soft Toys for Education Campaign, now in its 12th year, to be the biggest and best it has ever been.

The eye-opening week-long trip involved visiting several child protection programmes run by Save the Children.

At these projects the workers learned about the problems that children in Myanmar face, including discrimination, corporal punishment, child trafficking and child labour, and how Save the Children is helping to reduce children’s risk of exploitation.

With funding from the Ikea Foundation, Save the Children is able to run much-needed child protection programmes which fight for children’s rights and help to prevent abuse.

Throughout the trip, they met lots of children who have been helped through the projects including a young boy called Ye Win Naing who was rescued from his traffickers and saved from a life of child labour.

Each project visit allowed them to gain a real insight into life in Myanmar, as well as seeing first-hand the difference that Save the Children and the Ikea Foundation are making.

Through helping to reduce children’s vulnerability to abuse, the programmes ensure that children in Myanmar have the best chance of receiving a quality education.

Lisa said: “Our trip to Myanmar was truly inspiring. I didn’t realise the extent of the issues many children in Myanmar face on a daily basis. There are so many distressing reasons why these children are not able to receive a quality education, from a lack of understanding of even their most basic rights to being neglected or forced to work from a very young age.

“Yet, for every sad or traumatic story we heard, children and local communities filled our hearts with hope.”