IT is hard to imagine how you would feel if you were forced to flee your county to escape war, persecution or a natural disaster.

After leaving war-torn countries, refugees are then faced with a new threat as they have to live in overcrowded conditions with limited food rations.

To help raise both awareness and money for refugees on their journey to safety, three family members from Harwich are spending a week living off the same rations as a Syrian refugee.

Cheyenne Kadlec, 24, her sister Niki, 23, and cousin Bobbi Howard, 22, are starting the Ration Challenge tomorrow.

Cheyenne, a teacher at Harwich and Dovercourt High School, said she wanted to take part in the challenge as she felt angered by the “lack of empathy” displayed by the British public towards asylum seekers and refugees seeking safety crossing the English Channel.

She said another reason the trio signed up for the challenge is because refugees have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic due to the lack of access to clean water, soap and healthcare provision.

“I think throughout 2020, more than ever, we should be empathising with those in refugee camps,” Cheyenne added.

“As the pandemic hit, I had to delete all of my social media, unlike all news pages and ask my friends to stop discussing it, as it genuinely made me terrified.

“Luckily we stayed at home for almost 13 weeks, where we only left for our fortnightly shopping.

“We had access to face masks, anti-bacterial gel, cleaning products, a clean home, space and ventilation.

“And it never crossed my mind what a privilege that was.

“I didn’t even think, that there were others, who had not only fled trauma, war, bombs, persecution and a life of unimaginable fear.

“But now they face a new threat as they live in cramped and overcrowded conditions, with limited access to healthcare or basic sanitation, putting them at greater risk.

“Sadly, the World Food Programme is now warning the impact of lockdown will mean many more people will face devastating hunger.”

Braintree and Witham Times:

Cheyenne decided she had to act.

For the challenge the women were given a ration pack each.

This includes a small amount of rice, lentils, chickpeas, mackerel and oil, to have alongside water.

No spices or flavours are included in the pack - not even salt.

Cheyenne said eating rations will be difficult as she and Niki are both teachers who enjoy tea and coffee, and Bobbi is surrounded by food as she is a Domino’s delivery driver.

Cheyenne said: “We’re all feeling quite anxious about it.

“For me, the most difficult thing is definitely going to be having no tea or fizzy drinks, so I have already started to cut down my caffeine intake in preparation.

“However, no matter what our feelings of anxiety are, they are nothing in comparison to those where this is life for them.”

Although the rations appear bland, the trio has been given recipes from refugees living off the same food supply.

Braintree and Witham Times:

“We’re hoping to raise both money and awareness of the struggles faced by those fleeing war, in the hope that as a nation we can become more compassionate to those most in need,” Cheyenne added.

“I think the most difficult part is that people don’t realise what is attached in the picture is literally all we get for the week, plus water.”

So far the women have raised £152, with a goal of £400.


Funds raised from the Ration Challenge will provide emergency food, hygiene kits and life-saving support to refugees.