Ella’s ration challenge
For eight days during the second lockdown, I took on a ‘ration challenge’ and ate the equivalent that a member of a refugee family might get when living in Calais. I did this to raise money and awareness for @Care4Calais.
The challenge was hard. I was hungry every day, eating about 600 calories and it negatively affected my energy levels and my mood. When I was struggling, I kept reminding myself how lucky I was. I still had a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in, clean and comfy clothes to wear, and all my friends and family just a phone call away. Refugees living in Calais do not have these luxuries, they are living with very little sustenance as well as little or no warmth. Also, whilst I knew it would all be over in a little more than a week, the people who are stuck in Calais have no idea when it might end.
It wasn’t just hunger that was an issue but also the lack of food sent my emotions all over the place. Some days being hungry made me grumpy, meaning I wasn’t always my kindest self. I snapped at people, didn’t listen properly and got frustrated over little things. Some days the tiredness made me feel hopeless, and being unable to complete everyday tasks made me want to cry.
When I was feeling low, I thought about the friends I made in Calais, who are often hungry yet rarely let this get in the way of their hope. I remembered how every day on distribution, myself and other volunteers were met with smiles and endless gratitude. We could have a laugh about preferences for skinny or baggy jeans, or joke about the ridiculous amounts of sugar that people wanted in their tea. We played games of football and cricket, or danced to music from portable speakers. I was taught Kurdish, Arabic and Pashto, with my pronunciation providing great entertainment to those listening. The amount that people were willing to share was incredible: stories of their home countries, their families, their friends, their journeys, and everything in between. The level of kindness I saw whilst volunteering was beyond anything I have ever experienced before. Thinking of all these happy moments reminded me how important it is to be kind and grateful, no matter how tired, hungry or worn out you feel.
If you want to raise money to support refugees and fund the fantastic work of Care4Calais, I cannot recommend the ration challenge enough. I was so amazed by the support I received; it was incredible. Not only did the challenge raise more than £500 but it also gave me the opportunity to demonstrate to others how broken the asylum system is, and encourage them to volunteer, donate and generally just try to make a difference! The more people who get involved, the greater chance we have of making a change.