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Ikea Just Showed Us All What It Looks Like To Live In Syria

A sobering look at living in conflict

Amidst the tropical storm of coverage of this week’s historic presidential election upset, IKEA launched a project that could actually give us a little perspective. In a partnership with the American Red Cross, IKEA used one of its trademark pop-up home spaces at the company’s flagship store in Slependen, Norway, to send a powerful message about current living conditions in war-torn Syria.

Shoppers can take a tour of a life-size replica of a real Syrian home just as they would with any of the other aspirational spaces, only they won’t find themselves in a sleek, angular vision of modernity. Instead, visitors get a realistic idea of what it’s like living on the border of Damascus, in a space that’s walled with bare cinder blocks and is typically inhabited by nine people. Beyond the stress of living in an active war zone, most residents have limited access to food, medical supplies, and clean water. Advertising agency POL originally designed the installation, “25m2 Syria”, to raise funds for those trapped in areas of conflict. IKEA has promoted their efforts by hanging price tags on all the items with detailed stories of people who live in its real-world counterparts, along with instructions for donating via text.

Particularly during these uncertain times, it’s important to remember what we still have that’s worth fighting for. Those who’ve expressed a desire to flee to Canada following Trump’s win should keep in mind the truly harrowing conditions that force refugees with little to no resources to flee their country. As Quartz writer Sarah Todd so eloquently expressed,

“Under these circumstances, it’s understandable that some Americans are thinking of fleeing the country. But many of the people who would likely be most vulnerable during a Trump presidency—refugees, immigrants, the poor—have nowhere to go. For their sake, and for the future of our country, those of us who have a choice shouldn’t give in to the impulse to flee. We should stay here and fight.”

It might feel impossible to continue fighting for the progressive changes Trump has promised to derail, but it’s worth taking a moment to look outside of our current sociopolitical climate to appreciate the rights we’ll have to staunchly defend in the coming years.

All images courtesy of “25m2 Syria” by POL

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