As the refugee crisis in numerous countries continues to grow, several companies are using their platform to help.

One of those is IKEA. The Swedish furniture company has partnered with the Jordan River Foundation to provide job opportunities for Jordanian women and refugees.

All photos courtesy of IKEA.


The first part of the partnership has culminated in the Tilltalande collection — a collection of co-created handcrafted textiles. Over 100 artisans are currently part of the initiative, and that number is expected to reach 400 by the end of 2020.

Vaishali Misra, business leader of the Social Entrepreneurs Initiative at IKEA, thinks it's just one of the many ways the company can put action behind its belief in a quality standard of living for people around the world.

"A sustainable world that provides a great quality of life for many people, respects human rights and protects the environment is possible," Misra writes. "We can provide economic opportunities and empower people so they are able to better provide for themselves and their families."

IKEA is showing mega corporations around the world how to put their dollars behind their mission.

By making women and refugee hires a priority, IKEA is making a bold statement: People from around the world matter, and they deserve the same opportunities as everyone else. The company stands by this ideology by providing steady year-round jobs, aiming to create sustainable job experiences that are safe and fair for employees.

"Each artisan is paid a salary equal or above the legal monthly minimum wage set by Jordanian government," Misra adds. "They also receive social security benefits and insurance."

As millions of people flee war-torn countries and unsafe territory, families are not only displaced, they're forced to start over.

People who previously had careers and a reliable means to support themselves are forced to begin their lives over again in a new place. Large companies around the globe have steadily become involved, creating space to support those living in or seeking asylum from vulnerable locations.

"The current international refugee crisis is one of the greatest, most complex humanitarian challenges of our generation," Misra says. "Today, the number of people displaced from their homes by violence and persecution is unprecedented in human history. More than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced and nearly a third — more than 22 million — are living outside of their countries as refugees, according to The U.N. Refugee Agency. At IKEA, we think being an active member of our local communities is an important part of how we realize our vision to create a better everyday life for the many people. We feel compassion for our neighbors and especially want to help others less fortunate."

The collaboration's success has created a ripple effect in supporting lasting economic development for women and refugees.

Committed to serving people in vulnerable communities around the world, IKEA is working to support positive social and economic development by collaborating with artisans in rural India, Romania, and Thailand and working with partners in countries like Uganda, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, and Croatia, just to name a few.

"We are of course committed to supporting refugee communities, but also seek and promote partnerships that can impact the well-being of other communities as well," Misra writes. "Our social entrepreneur partnerships help individuals in underserved communities learn the skills and acquire the resources to bring about a lasting change in their lives."

As the company looks toward how to be impactful in the future, it's clear that they've already gotten a pretty great start.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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It can be hard to find hope in hard times, but we have examples of humanity all around us.

I almost didn't create this post this week.

As the U.S. reels from yet another horrendous school massacre, barely on the heels of the Buffalo grocery store shooting and the Laguna Woods church shooting reminding us that gun violence follows us everywhere in this country, I find myself in a familiar state of anger and grief and frustration. One time would be too much. Every time, it's too much. And yet it keeps happening over and over and over again.

I've written article after article about gun violence. I've engaged in every debate under the sun. I've joined advocacy groups, written to lawmakers, donated to organizations trying to stop the carnage, and here we are again. Round and round we go.

It's hard not to lose hope. It would be easy to let the fuming rage consume every bit of joy and calm and light that we so desperately want and need. But we have to find a balance.

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