IKEA Memphis provides refugees with beds

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Dozens of refugees resettled in Memphis have new beds and bedding, thanks to a nationwide initiative by furniture retailer IKEA.

IKEA Memphis made the bed presentation on Monday at the Refugee Empowerment Program headquarters on Merton Street. The donation is a part of a community donation campaign called 5,000 Dreams that IKEA put in place to support refugee families in local communities.

Refugee Janet Nyirabakomeza spoke to WMC Action News 5 through a translator. She's been in Memphis for seven months.

"I'm originally from Congo," she said, "I fled from Congo to Uganda because of the war."

Monday, she learned southern hospitality isn't just a saying.

"Everybody should have the right to have a safe, warm place to sleep, and a bed really is the anchor of all that. So, a bed is probably one of the most important things that you can provide a refugee family," said Carol Smith, with IKEA Memphis.

Outreach coordinators with Refugee Empowerment Program (REP) said many refugees come with large families, and the extra beds will be a big help. The bed and bedding should serve about 35 refugees.

"It's really life-saving for them. It's a very good support that they need for refugees," said Ruth Lomo, founder of the Refugee Empowerment Program.

REP estimates Memphis has between 7,000 and 10,000 refugees, many from war-torn African counties.  President Donald Trump had indicated he wanted to cut the number of refugees accepted nationwide in half – from the Obama years.

But leaders with REP said despite political talk, they want to keep working hard to increase awareness of the need, as Janet expressed gratitude for a new bed in her new home.

"All I can say is thank you," she said.

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