We’ve all seen the pictures: overcrowded camps, dilapidated tents, starving children. We all know what it looks like to be a refugee, but what does it feel like?
Four years ago, two Aussies and members of Act for Peace decided to try and answer this question. After visiting a refugee camp on the border of Myanmar and Thailand, Ration Challenge founders Ben Littlejohn and Karen McGrath were horrified by what they found. The camp didn’t have enough money to provide rations to everyone, and, as a result, thousands of people were starving.
Ben and Karen decided to put themselves in a refugee’s shoes and live on rations for a week. They also had the bright idea to get sponsored while doing it in order to raise money for real suffering refugees. With this, the Ration Challenge began.
Now, four years later, more than 25,000 people throughout Australia and New Zealand sign up to subsist solely on refugee rations for one week, raising almost $6 million for Syrian refugees.
The challenge itself is simple: Sign up through the website and the organization will send you your rations. (They currently only ship to Australia and New Zealand, but don’t worry! You can easily buy the rations yourself.) In the weeks leading up to the challenge, spread awareness about the cause and raise as much money as you can.
Of course, eating like a refugee is easier said than done. Participants of the challenge have to live off of a small box (about the size of two tissue boxes) filled with:
Rice – 420g
Lentils – 170g
Dried chick peas – 85g
Tinned sardines – 125g
Tinned kidney beans – 400g
Vegetable oil – 300ml
The challenge allows for certain alterations or additions to the meal plan. For example, if you’re a vegetarian, you can swap out the sardines for tofu. Additionally, the box comes with two coupons which can be redeemed for more rice or flour. These coupons are based off real coupons that refugees can get from the UN or other organizations that can be exchanged for extra food. As you raise money, you can earn additional ingredients (things like milk, sugar, and coffee) by reaching your fundraising goals.
Act for Peace, the organization behind the Ration Challenge, usually sets aside a specific week as “the” week for the challenge. However, this is a super simple and meaningful way to show support for refugees that can be done at any time, and Act for Peace encourages participants to partake in the challenge whenever it’s convenient for them if they cannot participate in the set dates.
To find out more about the Ration Challenge, click here!
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