Food challenge gives glimpse of refugee life

Holy Spirit Year 6 students Nikolai Assadi, Bonita Glassock, Lana Harmey, and Callan Flynn display their rations ahead of the Act for Peace challenge. Photo: Kitty Beale

Year 6 students at Holy Spirit Catholic Primary North Ryde had food for thought when they ate like refugees to raise funds to support the thousands of Syrians living in refugee camps in Jordan.

Parents of students involved in the Act for Peace Ration Challenge during Refugee Week in June also joined, living on an altered diet of rice, lentils, beans and chickpea flour, supplemented with a small amount of oil and fish or a vegan alternative.

Together the group of 15 students raised about $7,300 for the cause. Holy Spirit was one of the few primary schools in Australia to take on the challenge. The school held fourth place on the challenge leaderboard for funds raised, their efforts near to a first-place secondary school team of 95 people.

I was surprised when we found out how many people are refugees.

– Amy Ferrabetta

The Holy Spirit team participated in the challenge for three days and were allowed a piece of fruit for morning tea along with the rations to help them get through the school day.

“I thought it would be interesting to experience what they would be experiencing because we’ve been learning a lot about refugees lately,” said Lana Harmey, 11.

“We’ve learnt about the detention centres, the story of Ahn Do, and some things about immigration.

“What surprised me was the way people are treated in [Australia’s] detention centres. I thought they came straight to Australia before I read more about it.”

Holy Spirit school captain and challenge participant Callan Flynn, 11, has exercised his social conscience before by writing to Australia’s prime minister and agriculture minister. In light of the challenge, he said his next letter may be to the minister for immigration.

“I would tell him that he should probably take the ration challenge,” he said.

“I’d say it [the refugee crisis] is a big issue. The government needs to solve it and we’re not doing enough.”

Fellow Year 6 team member Amy Ferrabetta said she was grateful the challenge lasted only three days.

“It would be much harder to always live like that,” she said.

“When it came to the ration challenge, I was surprised when we found out how many people are refugees. At this point, I thought there would be less.”

There is one comment

  1. Sam Haddin

    Well done Team Holy Spirit!!
    At the time About Catholic Schools came to visit us, we had raised $7300. I’m extremely proud to report that the total amount that we raised by the end of the challenge was over $11,139!!
    Thank you to everyone who supported us!
    – Sam Haddin (REC, Holy Spirit Primary School)


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