2017 Ration Challenge
Today, my world is all about the Act For Peace – Ration Challenge. From June 18 I will be eating the same rations Syrian refugees in Jordan eat for one week.
Why am I doing this?
There are many reasons why I decided to take the ration challenge. And many reasons why I almost didn’t. I’ll start with the latter. I registered ages ago. Got my welcome pack ages ago. But right up until the last day before you had to earn your $100, to be sent the actual ration pack, I didn’t take the next step. I kept looking at the brochures on my bedside table thinking, ‘you’ve got to do this Suellen, do it now.’ But I kept putting it off. The reason for that was fairly simple. I was scared. I was scared I couldn’t do it. I was scared that people wouldn’t sponsor me. I was worried that I would be tarred with the ‘what good’s that going to do?’ brush. Or be berated by the ‘charity starts at home’ brigade. I was terrified of becoming known as ‘that woman.’ I have seen what happens to women who stick their necks out on social media.
So, I waited. My brain tried to convince me that no-one would know that I had committed to something, and pulled out. I could misplace the paperwork, be too busy to notice the date approaching. I could get away with doing nothing. I very nearly did.
At around 2pm on the cut off day of June 8, I somehow found my courage, created my fundraising page, and shared it on Facebook. What followed was a nerve wracking 10 hours, hoping I could raise my $100 by midnight. A friend I met when I was volunteering for Welcome to Australia, and when I went with a refugee friend to a refugee function in Richmond, was unsurprisingly, the first person to both share my post, and sponsor me. Unfortunately, that very day she was banned from Facebook for a month, so will have to follow my journey on Twitter. Why was she banned? Well, you’d probably have to ask the Facebook police the answer to that, but suffice to say she is a very passionate supporter of human rights, and sometimes that gets her into trouble. It is a lesson to me though; I need the support on Facebook, so it is gently, gently I go in my fundraising endeavors.
Did I get my $100 by midnight? Well, actually, no. My mum said she would sponsor me, but didn’t manage to work out the payment system until she had help the next day. A couple more friends sponsored me, and I sponsored myself, but by midnight my total was just over $60. When I woke up the next morning, I discovered I had easily passed the $100 mark overnight, and my little envelope on my page, that turns blue (therefore suggesting a pack has been sent) was highlighted, and I am pleased to announce it arrived in time.
Eager to find out who my benefactors were that got me over the line overnight, I was astonished to find a $56 donation by somebody that I had only just connected with on Facebook a few weeks ago, and had never actually met. I jumped onto messenger, and discovered that he was online, so I sent him a thank you message. He responded by saying that it is a great cause, and wonderful practical way of spreading some empathy, and that he has immense respect for me. Now, I was not doing this for the praise, but that gave me such a confidence boost, especially after one of the first responses to my initial request for sponsors being a negative one, so I thank you again. You know who you are.
Since then I have received donations from old friends, and new as well as one complete stranger who is not even a Facebook friend of mine. And one anonymous $20 donation. I wish I knew who that was, I’d like to thank everyone personally. At the time of writing this, my fundraising total is $385.76. I’m starting to think I might even pass my goal of $500, which I thought was totally optimistic when I started.
At the beginning of this I said there are many reasons why I decided to take the ration challenge. There are so many in fact that I couldn’t possibly fit them all in here. I will be writing about them, and posting old writings about them over the next weeks or so. But I think it is apt to sum it up, in as simple terms as I can to finish this blog post. And that simple reason is, I am taking the ration challenge because we are all human. There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’. We are all one. And the ration challenge is a way that I can try to make a difference to other people, who through no fault of their own find themselves in an awful situation, that nobody should ever have to go through. I will learn a lot through this experience, and it is my hope that other people that follow my journey will learn a lot too.