Rosedale Ration Rebels- one week on

Rosedale Ration Challenge

In September 2020 Anne Beckett-Allen sent out an e-mail to see if any of the Rosedale Team wished to join her in a Rations Challenge to raise funds for refugees. ‘I need a team of six’ said Anne, ‘anyone fancy joining me?’

Five of the Rosedale Team rose to the challenge, not fully knowing what lay ahead…

Ration packs arrived, we would be spending a week eating the same rations as if we were in a refugee camp, dried chickpeas, lentils, rice and kidney beans a tin of tuna for the week, a small container of flour and three small pots of oil and 240ml of milk.

Simon, Anne’s husband said when he saw the pack, ‘well that is not too bad for a day’. Anne’s reply was “darling, that is not for a day this is for the whole week!”

Well as a team we pulled together, cooked in bulk and distributed it among the team and set up a WhatsApp group enabling us to unite in what was set to be a tough week.

We endured headaches, stomach cramps and bloating but all of us would do it again to raise the money. We have been able to collectively raise enough money to supply 16 refugees with food for a whole year. A big thank you comes from the whole team, Anne Beckett- Allen, Emily Houghton, Sam Faulkner, Chloe Middleton, Faith Ames and Lucy Coote to all of you who have supported us.

Our aim was to each be able to support a refugee each for a year, six was our aim to do this we needed to raise £942 and we have managed to support over sixteen refugees raising the extraordinary sum on £2649.38. One week of hardship for each of us is a small price to pay. Our gratitude goes out to you all and we have all be humbled by this experience and realise how lucky we are to have the lives we have.

This poem is taken from ‘You Took the Last Bus Home‘, a collection of Brian Bilston’s poetry published by Unbound in October 2016.

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way

(now read from bottom to top)

Lament for Syria by Amineh Abou Kerech who won the 2017 Betjeman poetry prize for 10- to 13-year-olds.

Syrian doves croon above my head
their call cries in my eyes.
I’m trying to design a country
that will go with my poetry
and not get in the way when I’m thinking,
where soldiers don’t walk over my face.
I’m trying to design a country
which will be worthy of me if I’m ever a poet
and make allowances if I burst into tears.
I’m trying to design a City
of Love, Peace, Concord and Virtue,
free of mess, war, wreckage and misery.

Oh Syria, my love
I hear your moaning
in the cries of the doves.
I hear your screaming cry.
I left your land and merciful soil
And your fragrance of jasmine
My wing is broken like your wing.

I am from Syria
From a land where people pick up a discarded piece of bread
So that it does not get trampled on
From a place where a mother teaches her son not to step on an ant at the end of the day.
From a place where a teenager hides his cigarette from his old brother out of respect.
From a place where old ladies would water jasmine trees at dawn.
From the neighbours’ coffee in the morning
From: after you, aunt; as you wish, uncle; with pleasure, sister…
From a place which endured, which waited, which is still waiting for relief.

I will not write poetry for anyone else.

Can anyone teach me
how to make a homeland?
Heartfelt thanks if you can,
heartiest thanks,
from the house-sparrows,
the apple-trees of Syria,
and yours very sincerely.