Health week money shapes a brighter future for children

Every year, Ikano Group organises a Health week, where co-workers from all around the world spend a week focusing on their health, whilst collecting hours towards a donation to a chosen charity.

In 2023, the annual Health week activities led to a donation of EUR185,000 to the NGO 5 Skoler. 5 Skoler is a small Danish NGO dedicated to building and operating schools in the vicinity of Syria. Currently, they have 15 schools in Turkey and one in Lebanon, all catering to local street children and children who have fled the war in Syria.

Thanks to the donation from Ikano, 5 Skoler has now renovated a building and transformed it into a school in the centre of Beirut, in a slum area, next to one of the largest urban refugee camps in Lebanon. The funds cover the construction, as well as the operation of the school for three years.

“The donation from Ikano Group has already taken shape as another school facility in the heart of Beirut. When we opened the first school in Beirut, it quickly became apparent that we did not have enough capacity for all the children who wanted to attend 5 Skoler. It is a great relief for us that we now had the opportunity to renovate the building next door, so even more children can go to school,” says Dana.

The children attending the school often reside in abandoned buildings, or on the streets. They lack protection and are at high risk of child labour, exploitation, violence and crime, and their health is compromised due to living conditions and inadequate nutrition. The school provides a safe haven for around 45 children between the ages of 5 and 12, who’ve never before had access to education.

In school, they’re served breakfast and a hot, carefully balanced, meal every day, which makes a huge difference for children who might not otherwise know where their next meal is coming from. They study a variety of subjects, such as English, maths and sports and they do creative and cultural activities together. Three teachers and a kitchen lady educate and feed the children, help them comb their hair, brush their teeth and give them hugs when needed.  

Beirut poses challenges for humanitarian work, due to the very unstable power supply, a nearly non-functional government, and rapidly escalating inflation.

“But the children are there. They exist. And they only have one childhood.”

“We have had many difficult considerations regarding the construction of a school in Beirut, even questioning whether it was too challenging a project altogether. It is a country teetering on the brink of war and facing a significant political and economic crisis. But the children are there. They exist. And they only have one childhood. Now we have the new school in place – and we are succeeding,” says Maren Elise Skjerlie, the founder of 5 Skoler. 

Ikano Group’s donation not only gives financial support to the project but also signifies hope in shaping a brighter future for the children in Beirut through education and schooling.

“I’m really impressed by the courage and dedication of 5 Skoler. Education really is the key to a better future for all children, and 5Skoler is making a great difference”, concludes Lars Thorsén, CEO Ikano Group.