I was talking to a friend on the phone before we embarked on our One Night Without Lights challenge. “But WHY? You’re doing this…voluntarily?” She couldn’t understand why I would subject the whole family to a night without the use of any lights.
The story behind the Night Without Lights Challenge:
To begin, go scan over my original post about Brighter Lives for Refugees. That gives you most of the information you’ll need.
The campaign is primarily about offering a brighter future for refugee families across the world…but I was personally interested to share the experience with my kids to see how they reacted and what they took away from a night without lights.
Brighter Lives for Refugees
Many families living in refugee camps around the world must deal not only with difficult living conditions but also the absence of lights at night. Imagine life without any lights – once the sun goes down, no work can be done. It is dangerous or impossible to do even the most basic tasks, like going to the restroom or brushing teeth. Even cooking and eating dinner becomes a challenge in the dark.
The Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign will help to provide solar street lights, indoor solar lanterns, and other renewable energy technologies such as fuel efficient cooking stoves in UNHCR refugee camps in countries including Ethiopia, Chad, Bangladesh and Jordan. In addition the campaign will also fund improved primary education.
IKEA will donate one euro (or USD $1.37) to the UN refugee agency UNHCR for every IKEA LEDARE – LED light bulb sold during the campaign period, from February 3 through March 29, 2014. Additional information can be found here.
Night #1: No Lights At All
On Tuesday, we were challenged to spend the entire evening – from the time the sun went down until we fell asleep at night – without ANY source of light (minus the natural light of the moon). And, yes, that included cell phones (how often do you use your cell phone as a flashlight, especially when getting in to bed? I do it all the time!).
It took a lot of planning and preparation to get ready for our evening in the dark. We ate dinner a little earlier than usual so that we could have the setting sunlight to light the table. We had all brought pillows and blankets into the family room so that we could retire there after we ate. We got comfortable and settled in. The younger kids wouldn’t leave the room without a buddy. After talking for a while in the dark, Necco suggested that we listen to an audio book together (we let that slide because the Kindle doesn’t have a backlight). While it was tricky to get the audio book started using the moon light, once it was playing, we were able to cuddle comfortably on the couch and enjoy the story. Two of the kids fell asleep pretty quickly.
The most challenging aspects of Night #1 without any lights were:
- Going to the bathroom was next to impossible in the dark. OK, maybe not impossible. Certainly uncomfortable and strange. All we had to do was walk through our house. I can’t imagine having to walk through a camp, not knowing WHAT I might step on or trip over, or WHO I might stumble upon.
- Work ceased. Nothing productive happened after the sun went down. We couldn’t even enjoy recreational activities, like reading or crocheting.
It wasn’t all bad, though. While AJ did comment that he felt “naked and cold” in the dark (even though he wasn’t either), everyone was in good spirits and approached it like an adventure. And we definitely got more sleep than we usually do. Sitting in the dark has a way of making even the most stubborn eyelids get droopy.
Night #2: Use only one lamp
After spending the first night without any lights, I was surprised that my kids never uttered a single complaint about the second night of our challenge. We kept our house lights off on night number 2, but this time we were able to use the light from a single solar-powered lantern. It is amazing how bright one light seems in the midst of over-powering darkness.
With one lantern, we were able to eat dinner together and clean up the table, crochet after dinner, and see where we were going when we went to the bathroom or upstairs to go to bed. Everyone was more lively on the second night, and although what we DID was not that different from the first night, the way we felt certainly was.
Every month, we take a day to fast (ie, go without food for a few meals). It’s cleansing. It helps me to focus and “reset.” This experience of going without lights (and subsequently almost all of our electronics) felt very similar to fasting to me. Going into this experience, I was nervous. I had no idea how we’d actually spend our time. But looking back, we all had such a positive experience that we would consider doing it again….as a way to reconnect, “cleanse” from all of our electronics, and focus on the things that are most important.
The over-powering thought that kept going through my mind was that these families living without light night after night can’t do anything once the sun goes down. How much further ahead could they get with the ability to get things done at night, after the work of the day is done?
The Challenge was profound for us. I would definitely recommend taking the Night Without Lights challenge – as a way to teach kids about this important campaign or simply as a way to “fast” from the light and noise that we typically take in all the time.
How would YOUR family pass the time during One Night Without Lights?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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