Living on little for a week, to make a point for the world

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

Joel Pillay joined the Ration Challenge, living on a box of food such as it is given to refugees in the Middle East, “to spread awareness within our community of the less fortunate in Syria.

 

Victoria Mafambane and Joel Pillay.

 

“I did it not only to raise money but to also show my family and friends that not everyone has it as easy as we do.

 

“All participants receive a ration pack equivalent to what a refugee receives in Syria. They have to live off this pack for a week.

 

“I personally could not successfully finish this challenge,” says Mr Pillay, who is a salesman for food, “which did not help, of course. But I look forward to trying it out again and being successful.”

 

His partner, Victoria Mafambane, who joined the challenge with him, made it through with the sparse sustenance.

 

Children in a refugee camp.

 

Ration Challenge Australia says the food supplied aims to “reflect, as closely as we can, what it’s like to eat rations as a Syrian refugee in Jordan”.

 

It tells participants: “The food ration pack includes rice 420g, lentils 170g, dried chickpeas 85g, tinned sardines 125g, tinned kidney beans 400g and vegetable oil 300ml.

 

“In your ration pack, you’ll also find two food ‘coupons’, for additional rice and flour.

 

“They are representative of the coupons many refugees are given by the UN or other organisations that can be exchanged in local shops for essential staple foods, such as rice and flour.

 

“To recreate your refugee experience, buy an additional 1.5kg of rice and 400g of plain flour and add these to your week’s rations.

 

“Tip: don’t try to use your coupons at the supermarket, they won’t work!”

 

Says Mr Pillay: “Participating does not change the fact that there are starving and hungry people seeking refuge but it does give you the challenge of living in their shoes for a split second.

 

“It put a strain on my emotions, my wellbeing and also physically.

 

“It it sad to know that children and families live like this, and to them this is their life, not a challenge. It made me realise how good we have it.

 

“I would like to say a big thank you to all those who have donated and supported me the whole way. Donations are welcome till the end of August.”

 

Fifteen people in Alice Springs took part in Ration Challenge.

 

Act for Peace, which organises Ration Challenge, says the money raised will provide food rations, medical care, education and other essential support to Syrian refugees living in Jordan, and help other conflict and disaster-affected communities around the world.

 

“By taking part in the Ration Challenge, you’ll be supporting people in urgent need as well as helping to tackle the root causes of injustice through Act for Peace’s emergency response, long-term development and advocacy programs.

 

“Act for Peace has programs in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Pacific and Australia.

 

“Act for Peace works for safety, justice and dignity for all people and does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, colour, gender, sexual orientation or national origin.”

 

 

 

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Erwin Chlanda, Editor


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