While browsing the aisles of Ikea for furniture and home decor in Slependen, Norway, last month, thousands of shoppers wandered into an entirely different reality.
Amid the many impeccably furnished bedroom, bathroom and kitchen displays was “25mof Syria” ― an installation coordinated by Ikea and the Norwegian Red Cross and designed to replicate an actual home near the Syrian capital of Damascus.
Its barren concrete walls and weathered furniture painted a sobering picture of daily life for Rana, a Syrian woman whose home inspired the display. In lieu of Ikea’s traditional product and pricing tags, there were descriptions of living conditions in Syria and information on how to donate to those in need.
“When we had to flee to this area to find safety, we did not have enough money to rent a better place,” Rana told the Red Cross. “We have no money to buy mattresses and blankets, or clothes for the children.”
Syria’s civil war has triggered what the United Nations calls “the biggest humanitarian and refugee crisis of our time.” Now in its sixth year, the conflict has internally displaced some 6.5 million people and forced nearly 5 million more to flee the country. The death toll is nearing 500,000.
The initiative in Norway is part of a larger campaign to raise awareness about the crisis in Syria and teach people how they can help. It reportedly raised more than $23 million to support the Red Cross’ work in the war-torn nation.
Some 80,000 people visited the Syria installation during the two-week period it was displayed in October, CNN reports.
“I took my (five-year-old child) inside and explained,” one man commented on Facebook. “Next day she wanted to donate old toys. It is important that the new generation is aware!”
The Norwegian Red Cross did not immediately respond to The WorldPost’s request for comment.