Isabelle is an accessories market manager at Okaïdi, and when she visited India recently for a supplier meeting, she made the most of her time by seeing families from slums being helped by Inter Aide, an ÏDKIDS foundation partner NGO.
Inter Aide creates development programmes for very disadvantaged rural families. It works in extremely isolated areas with high population density, few NGOs and a relatively stable environment favouring long-term measures.
Since 2009 the ÏDKIDS corporate foundation has worked with the nonprofit to support mother-and-baby early learning workshops in Indian slums. With some families moving into “vertical slums” (abandoned high-rises), a social support programme was put in place to help them adjust to their new surroundings and boost early learning activities for 0-3-year-olds. In such vulnerable circumstances, children often lack stimulation in their early years and many parents don’t spend time interacting with them before they can speak, concentrating on washing and feeding them instead. These children also witness their parents in distress and can suffer long-term damage because of it.
With this in mind, Isabelle went to meet the social workers on the front line and recounts her experience: “I wanted to take photos of the ‘makeshift’ housing and narrow streets, but that would have been insensitive. The families live in close proximity to the streets and their homes often have no doors or windows – just a curtain. There are seven women working for Inter Aide who are all proud to belong to the NGO and offer women living in the slums psychological help, support, advice or a friendly ear. There are many issues to overcome such as malnutrition, poor hygiene, disease, lack of education and domestic violence. Inter Aide has targeted these very disadvantaged neighbourhoods and now all the families benefit from follow-up care. I thought I knew India well but I was surprised by the undercurrent of violence running through these slums and, paradoxically, the great sense of humanity at the heart of this team of women, originally from the slums, who were completely dedicated and very well organized. It reminded me of the quote by Abbé Pierre:‘The opposite of poverty is not wealth. The opposite of poverty is sharing.’”
Any ÏDKIDS employee who wants to can take time out of a business trip to meet the charities and the families they help. It is an opportunity to see the work supported by the brands and the foundation for themselves and talk about what We Act For Kids is achieving in the field when they get back.