Sign up to 'eat rations, raise money, save lives' this World Hunger Day
How can Christians help to fight global hunger this World Hunger Day (Friday, May 28)? One way is signing up to Act For Peace’s ‘Ration Challenge’ – and there’s only three days left to do so.
The challenge is simple, although not easy. From the moment paricipants wake up on June 13, until they go to bed on June 19, they commit to eating only the rations supplied by Act For Peace – plus a bit of olive oil they supply themselves.
These are the same rations — in almost exactly the same quantities — as Syrian refugees in Jordan are currently given by the organisations which Act For Peace partners with on the ground.
Plus, while participants can add an optional daily multivitamin, they are only allowed to drink water. And yes, that means no coffee, sugar or alcohol.
So what kind of food quantities are we talking about? Each participant can eat: 420 grams of rice; 170 grams of lentils; 85 grams of dried chickpeas; a 120 gram tin of sardines (or tofu/protein replacement for vegetarians and vegans); 400 grams of tinned kidney beans; and 300 mls of vegetable oil. In addition, particapants can also purchase 1.5 kilograms of rice and 400 grams of flour, which represents food purchased with coupons that some refugees are given by the UN or other organisations.
The entire experience is designed to both raise funds that can practically help feed people experiencing hunger and develop empathy in participants, by acquainting them with the realities experienced by refugees.
Participants are called upon to fundraise for Act For Peace and they have the opportunity to earn additional rations, like tea bags or a vegetable – by working hard to meet higher fundraising goals.
“Refugees are resilient, resourceful and hard-working people. But to protect local jobs, many countries (including Jordan) deny or tightly limit work rights for refugees; this means they need to find other ways to provide for their families,” Act for Peace explain on their website.
“In Thailand, the refugees Act for Peace work with are given tools and seeds to grow their own vegetables. In Jordan, we help refugees establish informal businesses – such as making and selling snacks – providing a small income to help top-up their rations. You won’t have time to grow your own vegetables or set up a business during the Ration Challenge, so instead, you can earn extra ingredients by working hard at your fundraising.”
The pandemic, refugees and hunger
‘Isn’t this article supposed to be about hunger?’ you may ask. Yes, and that’s the reason for the focus on refugees.
COVID-19 may have been hard for those of us living in nations like Australia and America, but it has had an exponentially greater impact on refugees. Nearly 80 million people around the world have been displaced, or are refugees – the largest number on record.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a more important time to take action,” says Ben Littlejohn, co-founder of the Ration Challenge. “Refugees — who have been forced from their homes, their livelihoods and their loved ones — are especially vulnerable.”
“Around the world, many refugees live in cramped and overcrowded conditions, with limited access to food, healthcare and basic sanitation. All of this puts refugees at an even greater risk of getting sick. Not only that, but the impact of lockdowns, loss of livelihoods, price increases and ongoing disruption to aid makes it even more difficult to survive, and is pushing many more families towards devastating hunger.”
It was six years ago that Littlejohn met Than, a refugee living in the Mae La camp, on the Thai-Burma border.
“When he showed me his family’s meagre rations, I couldn’t believe it,” Littlejohn says. “I was convinced that if I and others knew what it was like to live on those rations, we’d do more to help. So we decided to try it for a week, and raise money to support Than and other refugees like him. And with that — the Ration Challenge was born.”
Since then, more than 99,000 people around the world have signed up for the challenge, and raised about $19 million to support conflict and disaster-affected communities.
Money raised by participants will provide emergency food, healthcare and life-saving support for refugees. Most of the work on the ground, which includes distributing rations and running training, is done by volunteers, mainly refugees themselves.