The Difference Light Makes

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.


It Was Seriously Dark


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.


Solar-Powered LED Lantern - IKEA


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.


IKEA Solar-Powered LED Lantern


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.


My Thoughts

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.


Ethiopia Refugee Camps


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.


Children in Refugee Camp


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.


IKEA Brighter Lives for Refugees


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.



  1. joanna garcia says:

    It is so true what difference light makes, i visited a family member whose house does not have electricity and wow the difference!   I like these LED lights and will def help to support this cause!

  2. I cant imagine not having light at all. This is a great campaign.

  3. its something you don’t really think about, not having light

  4. I think we take for granted so many things in our lives. Fresh water, light, tons of food around us, and such. Their are so many people out there who need help and would be so thankful to have some of the things we have. 

  5. Kathy Lane says:

    Great campaign! I have had to do without lights a few times when my power goes off during the winter.You don’t really appreciate  what you have until you lose it.

  6. Dorothy Teel says:

    What a wonderful campaign from Ikea and tank you for sharing what this review with us, never think about no electricity of light until it does happen and even with power failures we can use flashlights, candles or generators, it is hard to realize what it would be like without any of these. Thank you for sharing

  7. This is such a nice campaign and I love to see companies donate for every item sold. So nice!

  8. I think that IKEA is making a huge difference in the peoples lives that have no light. I never thought about not living with light! I think that this is such a huge deal to give these people the light they need!

  9. Wow, that really did drive the point home, didn’t it? I didn’t realize what a difference it would make for those refugees. I hope TONS of lightbulbs are sold to help them!

  10. I often have to stop and appreciate how much I have…basic things like light at night, great plumbing and running water, heat and a/c on demand…much of the world doesn’t have this!

  11. I heard about this campaign and so happy you were able to take part in it. I bet it was a great experience for you and your family!

  12. What a wonderful challenge! It definitely is something we should all do, just to put ourselves in their shoes just for one night.

  13. What a tough way to live. You only had to do it for a couple of nights. I can’t even imagine it. I think this is a great program Ikea is helping to support.

  14. I can’t imagine going without light. I really like that Ikea lantern.

  15. Oh the things we take for granted! I would love to have my family perform a similar challenge since I feel my kids leave unneeded lights on far too often.

  16. What a great program & certainly eye opening. I got a small taste of this when we lost power for 5 days after a storm. It makes you appreciate what you have.

  17. I would be miserable with no light. Like you I normally read, also clean/organize, but with no llight can’t do anything but try and go to bed.

  18. We take so much for granted. I would love a little solar powered light by my bed…

  19. Ikea is such a giving company, the story is so sad, hopefully the light bulbs will be a huge seller, Ikea is always packed!

  20. such a blessing for those people for sure. I think IKEA is doing a wonderful thing thank you for sharing I had no idea . such a cute lamp tooo

  21. What an effective way to prove the difference! I’m thrilled that IKEA is doing this, and I’m going to purchase my lights from IKEA now just for this cause. 

  22. You are so right, lighting makes all the difference.

  23. We in the first worls do take our electricity for granted. What a great campaign.

  24. You know I’ve never really thought about having NO light at all. Your right if we lose power we still have candles or flashlights to use. I love that IKEA is giving back this way to make places safer for families in refugee camps so that they don’t have to be even more scared or worried than they probably already are.

  25. I need to do this with my family, because we are so dependent and take things for granted I think this would be very eye opening.

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