Daily Management Review

Ikea gifts solar lanterns to Syrian in the Al Azraq refugee camp


Ikea’s Brighter lives for Refugees has enabled Syrian refugees in the Al Azraq to have a sense of normalcy in these troubled times of war.

The sun not only drives the seasons and brings about great migrations all over the world, but is also primarily the main source of all energies that drives biological and physical processes all around the glove. It is also emerging as a force majeur for large companies to make heavy charitable contributions towards itself. Solar powered lights are quickly becoming the norm for donations for big corporates.
“Light taps into people’s ideas about development and progress. As a symbol of enlightenment and knowledge, it’s an incredibly powerful thing to give away. No one can be against [it],” says Jamie Cross, an expert in the field of Solar Science.

Such acts of charity is as much about branding as it is about providing to those in need. It also fuels further growth in the technology and makes it more affordable and reliable. The increase interest in solar science, have fueled more research into it and has made the market for solar powered devices a little more mature and affordable.

With the increase in demand, the cost of photovoltaic cells have fallen substantially. The technology has also come of age, and corporates can now very easily package and distribute solar-powered lighting products, thereby building a network of goodwill amongst its benefactors.
“Even in a humanitarian crisis, companies aren’t blind to future possibilities. After light comes all kinds of opportunities for the private sector,” says Cross.

Take the example, Esaf a 40 year old Syrian woman who was displaced because of war.  When she arrived and stepped in to the refugee camp at Al Azraq, she was transported back in time. As long as there is the sun is up, there is light. There was no light in her tent. “My youngest son is very scared of the dark, and when he has a bad night I can’t just turn on a light to make him feel better,” she said.

Mohammed, a 65 year old refugee, echoes the same view. “Street lighting would help us come together again, give us some quality of life.” The above examples are just a pointer to the problems faced by all refuges in the Al Azaraq camp.

However, their wish became true and their lives changed for the better, when Ikea raised $10.6 million so as to bring a glimmer of light and hope for these refugees. Ikeas campaign was aptly titled Brighter Lives for Refugees. Ikea donated $1.30 to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees for ever LED light bulb it sold between February 3 and 29 March. The funds it gathered though this campaign was utilized for the purchase and distribution of solar powered lanterns as well as purchase and installation of street lamps.

Although, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees has not been forthcoming as to utilisations of the generated funds, but it has disclosed that thanks to Ikeas initiative, more than 11,000 Syrians are now living a better life in the Al Azraq Camp and children as well as adults can now study and have social gatherings after dark.
“As [our] largest private sector partner, the Ikea Foundation investment plays a vitally important role in the work of UNHCR in many countries. Without strong and multi-year partnerships with a range of actors, UNHCR could not have the impact it does,” says Slijepcevic, a UNHCR spokesperson.