Why a furniture company is employing Jordanian women and refugees.

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.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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