Going days, weeks, or even years on end eating only rice and beans may seem like a nightmare to some, but this is the reality for refugees around the world.
I got a small taste of this last week when I undertook the Ration Challenge, a fundraising initiative of Act for Peace.
As previously reported in the Weekender, as part of the Ration Challenge, participants are sent a specific quantity of rice, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and sardines. You are also able to utilise an additional quantity of flour, rice and vegetable oil.
Upon starting, I knew that my main challenge would come from my active and sometimes chaotic lifestyle.
In addition to working at the Weekender, I also work as a dance teacher.
This meant that I would be participating in activities which required me to have energy, and sometimes leaving home at 8am, and not returning until 8pm.
Because of this, I often don’t have time to cook proper meals for myself and – having looked at the ingredients – I knew that this would be required.
What would hinder this further is my inability to cook. Though I can make pasta, and a pretty great cheese toastie, I’m definitely no MasterChef.
Act for Peace did supply me with a recipe book, however they weren’t foods that I was familiar with, so whether or not they were cooked correctly would ultimately be the luck of the draw.
Of course, the bland taste and small portions would inevitably cause me some trouble as well. However, I was lucky that with the donations I’d earned by the start of the challenge, I was able to redeem some rewards.
At this point in time, I had met the $125, $250 and $500 goals, earning me an unlimited supply of salt, 210mL of milk, and up to 170g of a vegetable of my choice, for which I chose corn.
I also donated to myself, earning me an unlimited quantity of a spice of my choice, being curry powder.
Although I did my best to mitigate these challenges, they don’t call it a challenge for nothing.
Throughout the challenge, I definitely found myself feeling hungry. I was spacing out my meals to make sure I had food over the course of the day, with only roasted chickpeas to snack on in between. The taste was definitely helped by the corn, salt and curry power, but this didn’t do anything for the brain fog or tiredness.
However, I feel as though I learned a lot from doing the challenge.
Meal prepping became my best friend, and by the end of the challenge, I was also cooking flawless flat bread and rice – ‘MasterChef’, here I come!
But, most of all, the challenge taught me to check my privilege.
On the Sunday after the challenge was over, I was able to go out for breakfast (and feel like a kid on Christmas), but I know that this isn’t the case for those who are struggling.
However, the reward felt even better knowing that I’d raised $693.
You can still donate to Cassidy’s Ration Challenge page at www.actforpeace.rationchallenge.org.au/cassidy-pearce. You can also find out more information on Act For Peace’s socials.
Cassidy Pearce is a news and entertainment journalist with The Western Weekender. A graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, she has previously worked with Good Morning Macarthur and joined the Weekender in 2022.