Written by Lee Gorman, Leeds Residential REAL Manager.
The Ration challenge was in aid of raising money for the charity Concern Worldwide. These vital funds would then go towards supplies for people fleeing war, living in refugee camps.
This challenge was brought to my attention via facebook. I thought this was a great idea and a great way to raise money and a difficult challenge that would be a great experience helping to deliver empathy with the millions who currently hold refugee status globally. I shared the idea with the rest of the REG group(REAL Ethical Group) which got a great response and many people joined me in my quest.
Challenge members were given a food ration to live off for a week which would be similar to that given to refugees each week.
The rations included a very limited amount of food.
My Ration Pack:-
One block of tofu (vegan option) or sardines
one bag of flour
a small bottle of oil
a bag of rice.
When I opened this pack of food I was a little shocked. I literally eat more than this in a day, never mind the week. It suddenly dawned on me the difficulty of this challenge and what I got myself into. This was a very small supply of food and the fact people have to live off this for a week was difficult to grasp, let alone for months on end as they flee war torn countries, floods, famine etc.
During the week of the challenge it was very hot and we were working in the sun which made it difficult. My meals were the same everyday pretty much. Bland flavourless and repetitive. My breakfast was some bread type things I created from the flour then I would eat rice, chickpeas and tofu later on.
The biggest struggle for me was that I missed coffee. I missed flavour! Having the options of choosing what I eat is something I personally really enjoy on a day to day basis . I was grumpy, I was tired and it was extremely difficult. One day I was working at a food festival and kept getting offered free food left right and centre and constantly being hit with temptation, I nearly had to admit defeat and give up .
With the backing of the REAL Family on Slack and the community we had built in the challenge slack group I finished the challenge, albeit with great difficulty. In all the team at REAL raised over £1,200 for Concern Worldwide, which was amazing and would supply much needed ration packs to those in dire need.
The challenge opened my eyes a lot in regards to how little people have to eat and live off. It created a great experience and we all became very resourceful and shared very creative recipes with each other. It showed me how much I take the freedom of choice for granted and how lucky we are in comparison. I can truly say it was a great learning experience but one of the hardest challenges I've done. I constantly felt lethargic. I couldn't concentrate. I was very grumpy and at one point I almost fainted. But we did it and we all completed the challenge and I was very proud of all the support we got.