Brighter Lives for Refugees #1nightwithoutlight


Image source: IKEA

Recently, I was invited by IKEA to write about a meaningful campaign. It is a great honor to be part of this special project as it is a cause I feel for and moreover, I’d be working with organizations which I respect.

The IKEA Foundation has been in partnership with UNHCR since 2010. As part of the Brighter Lives for Refugees (BLFR) campaign, the IKEA foundation will donate Є1 to the UN refugee agency for every LEDARE (light-emitting diode) lightbulb purchased in IKEA stores globally between February 1 to March 28 2015. This is the second annual campaign. Last year’s BLFR campaign saw the company raise $10.6 million in support globally.


Image source: UNHCR

The funds from the campaign will be channeled towards making each refugee camp a safer home. For instance, solar streetlights can improve safety by reducing the risk of crime, including sexual and gender-based violence.

It is saddening to know that there are nearly 11.7 million refugees around the world today – with children making about half the number. The lack of light in the refugee camps can have a devastating effect on their safety, education prospects and income.


Image source: UNHCR

What it was like living in total darkness for a night

The campaign included a challenge to experience living in total darkness for a night. On the day itself, I gathered some of my ‘tools’ in preparation for a night of darkness. You may find some of the items familiar as about 70% of them are from IKEA! Notice how I like using mismatched maison jars and glasses to store my candles. Also featuring the handy LED torch ‘LJUSA’ from IKEA, which requires no batteries!


When night fell, I went about my usual routine in complete darkness except for a small glimmer of light from my candle.


So I had a taste of what it’s like to live in utter darkness. However, my experience is nothing but a tip of the iceberg and cannot be compared to what it is really like out there. Midway, I had to adjust my camera lens; and even that itself was challenging and straining to the eyes. Many times, I found myself tempted to just switch on my bedside lamp. I cannot imagine having to go through this on a daily basis.

Efforts out there

It is heartening to know that large organisations such as IKEA are conscious of their responsibility to contribute to effective and sustainable solutions. IKEA stores will only sell LED lights by 2016. We can only hope that this initiative will be something for other corporations to emulate and for individuals to adopt.

What is different about LED lightbulbs?

LED lightbulbs may be pricier than your traditional ones but it boasts several benefits, such as:


We may be far but we can do our part too

From 6 – 8 February 2015, bring your used halogen or incandescent lightbulbs to the IKEA store for a 1 to 1 light bulb exchange.

Disclaimer: One person is only allowed up to 3 lightbulbs and exchange is limited to the first 1000 bulbs per day.

What else can we do in our daily lives?

Be mindful of your energy consumption. Turn off the lights when the room is not in use. Look out for LED bulbs when shopping at IKEA. Little things make a difference if everyone does it.

Let’s all do our part to create brighter lives for the refugee camps. A little light goes a long way.

About campaign

For every LED light bulb sold during February 1 to March 28 2015, the IKEA Foundation will donate Є1 to UNHCR. The funds generated will help improve access to lighting, renewable energy solutions and primary education in refugee camps across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Read more here:

This is a sponsored post by IKEA.