From the 11th - 17th June I participated in the Ration Challenge. Basically for this challenge I needed to eat the same food rations that a Syrian refugee (living in a refugee camp in Jordan) would survive on in a typical week.
The rations are made up of the food distributed by Act for Peace, including a small amount of rice, lentils, kidney beans, sardines, oil and chick peas. Also on the list were extra flour and rice, which represent food coupons sometimes distributed by the UN and other NGOs (which can be exchanged for food in local shops).
Dried chick peas 85g
Tinned sardines 125g
Tinned kidney beans 400g
Vegetable Oil 300ml
Note: I earned over $1000 in sponsorship money, so I was able to spend $5 on a treat (I chose Liver and few carrots). I was also allowed 170g of vegetables (I chose Spinach).
More info: https://actforpeace.rationchallenge.org.au/the-challenge-explained/whats-in-the-kit
Hey, how are you feeling?
Throughout the challenge week people often asked me "hey, how are you feeling?"; my response changed as the days passed by...
In days 1 - 3 I felt physical changes, hunger pains mostly. I noticed that I had a little less energy, getting up in the morning seemed slightly harder.
Something new also developed; I felt like I jumped into a pool called deep empathy. I was wading in new more connected waters. A deeper sense of gratitude also surrounded me and kept me afloat.
When days 4 - 5 arrived I noticed clear physiological changes. Now, i'll admit i've never been a morning person, but I found my patience especially in the mornings was sorely tested. My general energy levels, patience and zest for malarkey clearly made a run for it and were I'm pretty sure off hiding somewhere in Siberia!
A new feeling called hangry (combo of hungry and angry) was hanging about like a bad cold that you just can't quite shake. And for sure, a bit of guilt too... I said to a friend "I only have to do this for a week, I have a hot shower, a regular roof over my head, gosh, how would it feel to loose everything, be alone or with angry children in a foreign land?"
But, on the upside as the days progressed I felt as though I was continuing to swim in the waters of deepening empathy and gratitude. I felt more connected, I could understand more why people so often fast when on spiritual retreats, and why monks have such limited diets. My usual pre-occupation with food was simply not there, my mind wondered to other things. Life felt simpler, more focused. A new freedom kept me buoyant.
On a practical note; even though I'm not a huge fan of lists, it really helped me to list out the amounts of food I could have per day. For example x1 carrot, or 500g of cooked rice etc... this was another lap in the empathy pool.
By days 6 - 7 the hunger pains had gone and I was happier eating less. Energy was not at it's usual levels and in general I felt more mello; "let it be" seemed to be my mantra of choice (i didn't have the energy to be any other way!).
Through prayer I also had an unexpected gift arrive; the realisation of how very little I actually need.
I have so much in the way of choice, it's easy to become distracted by food and loose focus on the big picture. By big picture i'm referring to humanity, to the God-Quest, the common good, looking outside of your world, the ability to view things physically and emotionally from the eyes of another human soul. It's so easy for me to get caught in the daily temptations like preoccupation of choice options for food and other things in life... a.k.a the little picture.
At the end of this challenge I'm completely overwhelmed with gratitude to all those who have sponsored me with donations. Please view my page: https://actforpeace.rationchallenge.org.au/fundraiser/janemaisey
And to those who have supported me with prayer I'm enormously grateful. The community surrounding our Sisters of St Joseph who have rallied behind me have opened my eyes to the big picture of living life as a consecrated person.
Moving forward I'm attempting to process some of the guilt I feel for having so much when others have so little. I will certainly keep my belief that we all bleed red, we are all equal; I'll keep walking one day at a time, while swimming in these new found waters.
It's hard to sum up this experience in a few words, but If I have to choose three then I would say this ration challenge has gifted me: Simplicity + Connection + Gratitude
I hope you enjoy my wee thank you video below and some images are also below from the week.
*If the video doesn't load at first then push pause, wait a minute, then push play again.
Ciao Ration Challenge, see you in 2017...
Vaya Con Dios