Church World Service Hosts Ration Challenge Around World Refugee Day

Refugee brothers Nadim, left, and Hadi hold an Act for Peace Refugee Food Ration box in Jordan in 2017. Photo by Joel Pratley, courtesy of Ration Challenge

The Rev. Trina Bose North didn’t have a lot of ingredients to work with for a recent dinner party: lentils, chickpeas, rice, flour, a couple of spices and some sugar.

But things turned out all right. She and her guests made garlicky flatbread, lentils on rice and chickpeas fixed two ways.

There was even dessert.

Her foodie husband borrowed a tip from some vegan friends and combined the sugar with leftover water from the chickpeas to make meringue cookies.

The meal might not make it onto Pinterest or the pages of “Martha Stewart Living,” but it was filling, said Bose North, pastor of Crown Heights United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City.

Bose North and her friends are among more than 14,000 Americans participating in the Ration Challenge for the first time this year — many, this week around World Refugee Day (June 20).

The Rev. Trina Bose North, right, talks with refugee congregants about their experiences at Crown Heights United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City on June 2, 2019. Photo courtesy of Trina Bose North

The global challenge — organized in the United States by Church World Service — asks participants to live for a week on the same food rations people receive at refugee camps. The idea is to raise awareness for the challenges refugees face and funds to support them. Participants ask friends and others to sponsor them by donating to the cause.

It also is a way to show support for refugees at a time when the U.S. refugee program is struggling. President Trump has set refugee admissions to the country at historic lows, said Mary Elizabeth Margolis, director of communications for the Immigration and Refugee Program at CWS.

Many people feel there isn’t much they can do to help, Margolis said. This is one thing they can do.

“It’s a way to show support in your communities and to start conversations and also to really make a difference by raising a couple of hundred dollars,” Margolis said. “If we all do that, it can have a huge impact.”

The Ration Challenge began in 2014 when co-founders Kaz McGrath and Ben Littlejohn visited a refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border through their work for Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia. There, McGrath and Littlejohn met with refugees and saw the sparse rations they receive.

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Source: Religion News Service