Last week our amazing PR expert Emma completed the Ration Challenge, in which she ate only the food available to a Syrian refugee for an entire week. If you missed our original article on this, go check it out!
Emma raised an incredible £644.34 for the charity, and we’re super proud of her.
Now that she’s completed the challenge, I caught up with Em to find out how it went and what she learned along the way.
Hi Emma, huge congratulations on completing the Ration Challenge. We all saw from the photos the tiny amount of food you had to live on for a week. How did you find it?
Thank you so much! It was such a challenging and eye-opening experience. I kept seeing things on the news and reading these heartbreaking stories and felt completely helpless. As we know, refugees are already living a nightmare; and now, as a result of the pandemic, many could starve to death. I felt like it was the least I could do to help. It really was a rollercoaster of emotions if I’m honest, but I’m so pleased I did it.
I have to say, the kindness and generosity of everyone who supported me and donated was amazing! It made the week that much easier having people checking in and giving you moral support. It really did feel like we’re all #inthistogether.
Emma's flatbreads were made with flour and water. Using the ingredients allowed, she was able to make a batch of five small breads.
What was your biggest challenge?
I think the biggest challenge was feeling motivated to create dishes with such limited flavours and ingredients. Sometimes I would just have plain rice for breakfast and dinner which was incredibly bland. If I were to do this again I would take the advice from the organizers and plan the meals in advance, and also weigh out my ingredients for each day. I used up all my flour within the first three days making flatbreads! That wasn't ideal!
How did you deal with the hunger? Did you have any tactics that helped you through it?
I stayed out of supermarkets all week! Drank loads of water and just kept reminding myself about why I was doing it. I also found myself going to bed around 8.30pm most nights. Towards the end I could really feel the effects of so little food and vitamins.
Emma made a dip from blended chickpeas to go with the flatbreads. The above shows two portions.
What was it like having such a limited supply of ingredients? Did you create any go-to recipes?
So with this challenge you have an opportunity to join and team. Being vegan I created ‘The Vegan Squad’. If you hit certain targets you can earn yourself a spice so we were really lucky to have an opportunity to use chilli, salt and cinnamon. I didn't actually end up using any cinnamon but was so grateful for the chilli and salt!
Emma ate plain boiled rice for dinner most nights. She earned seven tea bags, which she reused throughout the week.
What was the most important thing you learned from the experience?
This challenge has given me a better understanding of how hard it must be to survive every day on refugee rations. As much as I missed food and struggled through the week, it's given me an incredible appreciation for how lucky we are.
What was the first thing you ate after you completed the challenge?
I woke up at 4am! I had 3 herbal teas and didn't actually eat until around 10am, when I made some crumpets. I couldn't help having such an overwhelming feeling of guilt that I could eat whatever I wanted yet so many people will continue to go hungry. There were a lot of tears that morning, if I'm honest. I was happy the challenge was over but I just wish it could be over for everyone.
You’ve raised loads of money for a great cause. Do you have any plans to do something like this again in the future?
Funny you should ask that! We have decided to create a volunteering programme at Rusty Monkey.
We have a number of projects lined up starting Monday 28th, when five members of the team will be volunteering for the day at Stonebridge City Farm. They’re charity-run and have been hit hard by the lack of footfall during the pandemic. We want to help support our community and work alongside like-minded people who want to give something back, and who share our ethos.