Since COVID-19 rocked our world, children have been exposed to the pain and suffering of others.  Even if we turn off the television, young children have experienced first-hand the effects of lockdowns, mask-wearing, social isolation and worried conversations. 

While here in Australia, we are living our ‘new normal’, there are 665,834 registered refugees living in Jordan who continue to suffer.  Already struggling to survive, they are grappling with the devastating impact of the pandemic.  By reaching out to help, Australian children and families can learn the value of empathy and making a difference in the world.

The Ration Challenge is a powerful and thought-provoking fundraising initiative that empowers Australian children and their families, teachers and class-mates to stand in solidarity with children who are living as refugees in other countries.  Every family or school student registered by their teacher will receive a ration pack in the mail, containing the same rations, in the same quantities, as those distributed to Syrian refugees in camps in Jordan – just a small amount of rice, beans, chickpeas, lentils, fish, oil and flour.

More than 99,000 people have taken part in the Ration Challenge since it was first launched in 2014, and more than $19 million has been raised to help Syrian refugees and other vulnerable communities around the world, now also dealing with the devastating impact of COVID-19. 

“By taking the Ration Challenge, participants will raise money that will help save lives now by providing emergency food, healthcare and support to people hit hardest by this crisis. And by putting themselves in the shoes of a refugee for one week, they’ll learn about current global issues, develop empathy for others and feel empowered to make a difference in the world,” said Ben Littlejohn, Ration Challenge co-founder at Act for Peace, the humanitarian aid agency that initiated the fundraiser.

Benefits to children taking part in fundraising activities

Psychologist Kirsten Hunter, said that there are many benefits to children taking part in fundraising activities such as the Ration Challenge:

  1. Values – charity reminds us of what really matters; being safe, being healthy, being loved.
  1. Connection – we need one another to survive. Charity is about bringing those with better fortune to be more connected with those with lesser fortune, whether that be financial, health or safety. Connection and a sense of belonging in our world is crucial for our mental health.
  1. Joy – we find increasing joy in giving and receiving.Actually, when we give, we are also receiving, as it brings us a sense of joy and satisfaction.
  1. Expanded horizons – charity opens a doorway into other people’s worlds – we can learn about the complexity and the trial of others’ lives. Each of us has our unique life experiences and our stories of courage, joy and pleasure, as well as fear, sorrow and loss. Charity broadens our world.
  1. Unity – we all have our human needs; different ethnicities, different religions, different cultures, different backgrounds. We are more alike than we are different. We are all in this together. Charity allows us to extend our care globally.
  1. Compassion – with our over reliance on technology and our fast-paced lives, we can start to feel disconnected from the heart, the pulse, and the reality of people in need. Charity is about being real about other’s needs, and learning to prioritise others.  It is vital to teach our children to be caring and mindful of others. We want our children to grow up to be kind and compassionate. Charity is a concrete experience to strengthen these values in our children.

School teacher, Michael Ferris and his students at Reynella College have taken part in the Challenge for the last two years raising a total of $37,815.

“The Ration Challenge is an important tool for helping students get a glimpse of life outside their own. It helps develop a sense of community and of belonging.  Being able to feel what it’s like to feel hungry is powerful.  We can talk about it but that would have far less of an impact than kids experiencing it themselves and sharing that experience with their friends.”

The money raised from the Ration Challenge will go towards helping save lives by providing emergency food, healthcare and life-saving support for the people who need it most.

To register, visit: