Millions of refugees have fled the war in Syria, running for their lives and leaving behind everything: nationhood, families, homes, jobs, and possessions, to live in barely tolerable conditions with no true end in sight. While refugee camps provide an oasis from the trauma of war, they are primitive, with little creature comforts to warm the soul. In particular, when night falls, the camps go dark. No lights at night, means that the day stops early—work must stop, learning must cease, visiting with other refugees, reading—all meaningful and productive activities that offer some semblance of normalcy are abruptly halted when the day closes out. This is particularly painful during the winter months when the days are much shorter.
The “Brighter Lives for Refugees” campaign is Ikea’s brilliant campaign for reversing dark nights and light up the lives of refugees. During a limited period each year, Ikea matches one euro to every LED product purchased by its customers, whether online or in the store. The “Brighter Lives for Refugees” initiative, in coordination with the United Nations Refugee Agency, funds educational programs and renewable energy lighting and stoves in refugee camps across the Middle East, Africa and Asia. For instance, 500 LED solar-operated street lights were installed for the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan.
Ikea has donated more than $166 million to UNHCR since 2010. 720 solar street lights and 56,000 solar lanterns have been installed in refugee camps in Jordan and Ethiopia. More than 37,000 refugee children living in Ethiopia, Chad and Bangladesh have been enrolled in school. And more than 740 teachers in those countries have been trained. And now with street lights, children, who make up half of all refugees living in camps, have a safe environment in which to visit and play with friends and continue their studies.
The “Brighter Lives for Refugees” campaign raised more than €10 million in 2014. Funds raised from the 2014 campaign improved the lives of more than 380,000 refugees living in camps in Bangladesh, Jordan, Ethiopia and Chad. This year’s campaign ran from 29 November to 19 December, promising to brighten up 2016 for those who have already been through tough times.