As part of my participation in the IKEA Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign, I agreed to take the One Night Without Lights Challenge. That meant that one night I would go completely without light and the next to use only a solar-powered LED lantern.
It was an opportunity for me to see just a tiny portion of the challenges refugees throughout the world face when the sun goes down.
The Challenge – Night One
I’ll admit, I thought this would be a cinch. We’ve lost power a few times this winter and I got by just fine. But I didn’t really consider how different it would be with NO light. No candles. No lanterns. No flashlights. I couldn’t even use the light from my laptop or phone.
It was DARK.
I had problems I hadn’t even considered. I didn’t plan very well ahead of time, so when it was time to get changed for bed and time to brush my teeth, I had a hard time.
I had assumed that there would be a little bit of light from the moon or from streetlights, but our bedroom is on the back of the house with woods behind it. There was no light at all. I couldn’t see a foot in front of me. I couldn’t see to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night and kicked a box of books I’d forgotten at the end of the bed.
I did leave a small nightlight on for the kids in their bathroom at the other end of the hall. So when I sat on my bed, I could just barely see the hint of light in the doorway.
I thought I’d just head to bed early and get caught up on some sleep, but I wasn’t tired. My husband and kids had all fallen asleep, so I had no one to talk to and try to pass the time. I normally read for a little while until I fall asleep, but couldn’t do that without light.
There was nothing to do. I just sat there and looked at that blur of a doorway. For a loooooooong time.
I can’t imagine living like that night after night.
The Challenge – Night Two
For the second night of the challenge, I was allowed to use one light – a Solar Powered LED Lantern from IKEA. It’s the type of lantern that is changing lives in refugee camps in Ethiophia, Jordan, Chad and Bangladesh, thanks to IKEA as part of this campaign.
I let the light charge all day in the sunlight by a window and by the time it got dark outside it was charged and ready to go. It was lightweight and easy to take with me throughout the house as I moved from room to room.
The difference was enormous.
I was able to go back to doing everything I wanted, easily and without any problems. I checked on the kids, got ready for bed and got lots of work done. When it was time for bed, I was able to read for a little while.
Instead of having hours and hours of boring, wasted time, I was able to be just as active and productive as I was during the daytime.
This challenge opened my eyes in ways I wouldn’t have expected.
The night without light was inconvenient and boring, but I knew the entire time that I was safe in my home. I was losing a night of productivity, but it wouldn’t hurt my business or make a difference in whether or not we can provide for our children.
The people living in UNHCR refugee camps face a much different life when they go without lights. It’s not just an inconvenience. It can mean serious difficulty and even danger.
The most basic of activities, even just collecting water or using the toilet, can be needlessly dangerous without light. The darkness brings with it more crime, including gender-based and sexual violence. Solar street lights will mean improved safety for those who live in the refugee camps.
Darkness means the inability to produce income because people are unable to work and keep shops open after the sun goes down. Solar street lights will allow refugees to continue their income-producing work after dark, like weaving and sewing. The lights will also enable refugees to run their kiosks and shops into the evening, increasing their prospect of generating a sustainable income.
The lack of light at night means children are unable to work, play or read. Solar street lights and camp lights will allow children to study after dark and improve their educational progress. The lights will also allow more gatherings and social functions, creating a better sense of community and improving quality and enjoyment of life in the camps.
Brighter Lives for Refugees
Through this wonderful campaign, IKEA will be donating one euro to the UNHCR refugee agency for every IKEA LEDARE – LED light bulb sold.
In addition to solar street lights and indoor solar lanterns, IKEA’s campaign will also provide access to other renewable energy technologies, including fuel efficient cooking stoves. The money will also be used to improve primary education for the children in the refugee camps.
Learn more about IKEA’s Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.