Ration Challenge day 7: rations by choice

Today is the last day of my Act for Peace Ration Challenge, which I’ve been doing with my brother, Shane.

Reflecting back on the week, one of the hardest parts of the challenge for me was all the food preparation. My diet is usually so convenient, but this week I’ve had to weigh up my ingredients and cook from scratch every night. It’s been tiring on top of working and raising two kids.

I’ve also noticed how good food smells. My son makes toast in the morning for breakfast and I never expected toast to smell so amazing!Continue Reading

Ration Challenge day 5: Ramadan on rations

As my brother, Shane, and I work our way through day five of Act for Peace’s Ration Challenge, I’ve been thinking a bit about people who are currently observing the holy month of Ramadan, which this year is taking place from 7 June–7 July. I don’t observe Ramadan myself, but many Muslims around the world are at the moment.

During Ramadan, many people of Muslim faith fast from before sunrise to after sunset, breaking their fasts with an Iftar dinner, usually spent with family and friends. They also use this time to pray and reflect regularly throughout the day. A lot of Muslims use Ramadan as a time to give back to their community, as showing love to each other pleases God. Last year I wrote about Ramadan here.

The Ration Challenge is this year focussed on Syrian refugees living in Jordan, and because 90% of Syrians are Islamic, many of them will be observing the holy month of Ramadan as we take up the challenge.

Through researching my article on Ramadan last year, I was invited to share in two Iftar dinners; one was a community dinner with the City of Canning, the other I shared with new friends in their home with my colleague, Andy Reavell, and my two children. We learnt that Ramadan is a spiritual journey, and it’s not meant to be easy.

In war-torn Syria, locals are not getting rest from violence during Ramadan. I’ve seen a range of articles in my Twitter feed highlighting violence in Syria during the holy month. Al Jazeera reported that 224 people were killed in Syria from conflict during the first week of Ramadan alone. This included 148 civilians, 50 of which were children. We’re now into week three of Ramadan.

Syrian refugees living in nearby countries, such as Jordan and Lebanon are feeling the strain of providing food for their families. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that 93% of Syrian refugees living in Jordan are under the poverty line and are struggling to find food all throughout the year. This becomes more challenging during the holy month, as breaking the fast during Ramadan is a communal event; time spent with family and friends.

So far, Shane and I together have raised $2166 for Act for Peace by taking part in the Ration Challenge! The money will go towards their projects which support people affected by conflict around the world. One of these projects is providing food rations to refugees living in camps.

Thanks so much to everyone who has donated so far. We really appreciate it!

There is still time to support us in the challenge.

To sponsor me visit https://actforpeace.rationchallenge.org.au/fundraisers/heatherdowling.

To sponsor Shane visit https://actforpeace.rationchallenge.org.au/fundraiser/shanedowling.

And to keep up to date with my experience throughout the challenge visit https://revivemagazine.org.au/category/ration-challenge-2016/.

Heather Dowling

Ps. Yesterday, or ‘hump day’, was kind of a hard one for me. By the end of the day I was feeling hungry, tired, headachey and just a bit miserable. The idea of cooking food from scratch was annoying and I felt a weird mix of gratitude and shame knowing that I only had three days of the challenge left.

After eating, and today, I feel much better! And even better still knowing that from all your sponsorship I’ve earned a reward of a luxury item of my choice. I’m not sure how I’ll use that yet, but I’ll keep you posted.


Ration Challenge day 3: the feast

Last week I posted a plea on Facebook for sponsorship in the Ration Challenge, which started a few days ago. My brother and I are taking the challenge together, so throughout the week we’re meeting up to eat together and keep each other company.

For more info on why I’m taking the challenge click here.

At the time, my brother, Shane, had earned over $500 on his sponsorship page, which meant he was rewarded with 70g of protein. I was still slightly under.

Shane had decided to use his protein, plus some already earned veggies, to make a chicken soup as an extra treat part-way through the challenge. And because I’m his little sister, and because he loves me that much, he invited me round to his place to share it with him.Continue Reading

Ration Challenge day 1: the gift

It’s begun! Today my brother Shane and I started Act for Peace’s Ration Challenge and we’re doing ok! Shane stayed at my house on Saturday night so that we could begin the challenge together on Sunday morning. We shared a meal of rice, lentils and kidney beans, which will pretty much be my diet for each meal this week. In the evening, however, I’ll be making some flat bread with hommus for a snack.Continue Reading

Challenge accepted

For a week starting tomorrow, my brother Shane and I will be eating the same rations that a Syrian refugee in Jordan receives, with an aim to raise funds for Act for Peace as they support people affected by conflict around the world.

The ration pack includes a small amount of rice, flour, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, oil and a tin of sardines, which I’m substituting for tofu. We can also earn rewards along the way – so far I’ve earned 70g of milk powder, 170g of veggies, 70g of protein and a spice. I’ve been preparing myself beforehand by cutting out chocolate, leading up to cutting out snacks altogether. I’m hopeful that this will help me have fewer cravings during the week.

I’ve been promoting my fundraising page for a while now, so I thought it was time I shared some thoughts about why we would take up such a challenge.

According to the latest figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are 59.5 million forcibly displaced people around the world – 19.5 million of those are considered refugees, and 10 million are stateless.Continue Reading

A daunting challenge

In April, I was privileged to attend the UnitingWomen conference in Adelaide. It was an amazing gathering of 400 women who are engaged and inspired to live out their faith with love, towards   healing, justice and a better world. We heard from speakers who have overcome child abuse, domestic violence and female genital mutilation, as well as women in leadership creating gender  equality in the Pacific. Mother and daughter, Denise and Candace Champion, shared their success stories of mentorship in the church and community, and a range of workshops encouraged us to engage in our own interests and pursuits. Plus, we heard from amazing women leaders amongst the Uniting Church network including Penny Wong, Rev Elenie Poulos and Julie McCrossin.

In one of my elective workshops, I learnt about values-based living, as opposed to goal-based living, and was able to reflect on my own journey and where I want it to take me.

In another workshop, I spent an afternoon sitting on the grass in the sun basket weaving with women from Mapuru, in Arnhem Land. After an intense couple of days it was a much needed break  for some crafty timeout with new faces.Continue Reading

Syrian refugees share their story

I recently travelled to an urban refugee camp in Jordan to meet with Syrian men, women and children who have been forced to flee their home to escape war and violence.

Whilst I was there I asked refugees, “What did the war take from you?”

“Our dad.” “Dignity.” “School.” “Everything.”

Their heartbreaking responses caused me to reflect on just how much the war in Syria has impacted ordinary mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. After five long years, the conflict has come at an unconscionable human cost.  People fleeing violence have lost not only their homes, livelihoods, family, friends, but also their dignity, safety and basic human rights.

I went to Jordan on assignment with Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, to see how urgently needed food ration packs were being distributed to Syrian refugees. Many of the packs were funded thanks to the generous support of Uniting Church members in Western Australia, and it was incredible to see firsthand the difference this support was making.Continue Reading