What a week – the Rosedale Rebels have completed our Rations Challenge. We have lived off the rations that are given out to refugees in Jordon, costing just 44 pence a day, giving us a tiny glimpse into their lives.
Water was the only drink allowed, but for every 5 people we asked to sponsor us we were able to earn one teabag. We had a milk allowance of just 240ml of milk for the week, so we had to choose carefully when to use this, as if you added it to your tea, you wouldn’t have enough left to make a rice pudding.
There are now almost 80 million people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes by conflict or disaster. That is the highest number on record. These are mothers and fathers struggling to feed their children; sons and daughters missing out on an education; people dying for want of basic medical care that we take for granted.
Refugees were already living a nightmare; and now, as a result of the pandemic, many more will face devastating hunger.
Coffee was off the menu for us, as were fruit, vegetables and anything sweet. We have all had withdrawals from caffeine and sugar causing us severe headaches. The rations consisted of rice, lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans which enabled us to feel full, but with just 420g of veg to be divided among the whole team of six it was hard to make the meals inviting. For so many refugees around the world this is their daily reality.
Working together as a team brought advantages, as we were blessed with six spices and these were a godsend. Cumin, garlic, chilli flakes, turmeric, curry powder and cinnamon – much gratitude was expressed for these. The chickpeas and lentils were dried and had to be soaked pre-use so you had to be organised, as less than 24 hours soaking meant a very hard almost indigestible chickpea, and of course if you had a kitchen disaster, or burnt a meal, as some of our team members did, you could not replace your rations, you just had to go without.
Borborygmus – a rumbling or gurgling noise made by the movement of fluid and gas in the intestine – was and still is an issue for us all. The food we ate did not pass easily and we did experience some “backing up” with one colleague saying “have you met my rice baby?” Funny as it may sound, the discomfort whilst still working full time left many of us short of temper and quick to snap not to mention fatigued, brain fogged and often cold. Suddenly everywhere you look is food and everything smells so good, bread baking, fish and chips frying it is all around us and for many we were still preparing and cooking meals for the rest of our families who most certainly are not in the challenge.
I think without exception was our overriding thought that Sunday night would soon be here and we could start to eat normally again – but of course those in refugee camps around the world do not have that light at the end of the tunnel, and many have been surviving on rations for years, with no hope of the end being in sight, and no means with which to change their situation.
All of us without exception have been humbled by this experience, mindful of how lucky we are in our daily lives and far more aware of the food we waste on a weekly basis. As we now feel replete, we are grateful for our family, friends and the homes and comforts we so often take for granted and overwhelmed by the love and support we have been shown by so many.
The money we have raised will help provide emergency food, hygiene kits and life-saving support to refugees and other conflict and disaster affected communities around the world hit hardest by the coronavirus.