WHAT would be the last thing you’d want after having just a small bowl of rice for breakfast? Probably another small bowl of rice for lunch.
But that’s the regular menu for Scots School teacher Chris Harris this week as he tackles the Act For Peace Ration Challenge to mark Refugee Week.
Mr Harris is one of 10,000 people across Australia taking part in the challenge, spending a week on basic rations to simulate the conditions refugees are facing in camps across the globe.
For the week’s challenge, each participant will receive the same food pack being handed out to Syrian refugees living in Jordan camps – paltry rations they must survive on for a week.
Each pack contains just a small amount of rice, lentils, chick peas, beans, sardines and oil, with red meat, coffee and alcohol all off the menu for the week.
Mr Harris, a science and geography teacher, said he signed up for the challenge to give his students a better understanding of the plight of refugees.
“When I heard about it I thought it was something I should really get involved in, especially as I teach geography and we have been talking about refugees,” he said.
“I just felt it was something I could do to raise quite a bit of awareness. I started [on Thursday] with 125 grams of rice for breakfast, and another 125 grams for lunch.”
Mr Harris has involved the Scots School in his fundraising efforts and students held a Mufti Day and morning tea on Thursday to add to the tally.
But when he took along his week’s supply of rations to show what he was doing, not everyone got the message straight away.
“I had one girl ask if what I was showing them was my food for the day so she was quite shocked when I said it was my rations for the week,” he said.
Mr Harris was originally a Penrith boy but moved to Bathurst in 2010.
He first worked as a lawyer in town before deciding on a career change and has now taught at Scots for four years.
“At first I thought teaching was something you do when you are an older person but I became a bit disillusioned with law and thought I would give it a go,” he said.
“It’s great. I think you can really make an impact on young people’s lives at this stage rather than waiting until they are older.”
Mr Harris is married to Renea and they have two daughters – Sofia, four, and Abigail, two. He started the ration challenge last Thursday and will finish this Thursday, the last day of term for Scots.
“My Year 7 maths class want to have pizza with me for lunch to mark the end of the term and the end of the challenge,” he said.
Anyone wanting to sponsor Mr Harris can go to actforpeace.rationchallenge.org.au/fundraisers/chrisharris.