|The boys doing some hard yakka during the day|
Our family decided to do the 40 hour famine together as an all-in-together kinda thing, with everyone giving up something (or a few things) to really make sure that we really understood what it was like to go without. That was what we had signed up for, but once we had started, on the Saturday morning the boys (aged 8, 10 & 11) were really pumped to go without food for as long as they could, even though the 8 year old had said he would go without furniture, gameboys, electronics and just eat basic food (rice & lentils) to understand the refugee camp life. I thought that was probably more than enough for a little tacker. The other two had pledged to go without for 8 hours and then eat the basic food as well. The 10 year old said he would go without electronics, reading and furniture (all tough stuff for a 10 year old boy) and the 11 year old (the great reader) said he would give up reading, furniture, and 8 hours of food. So, I was a little surprised when they said they were going to go for as long as they could without food. My husband wasn't sure that he could even survive without breaky. I convinced him to give it a go and slipped him a barley sugar. He is one of those stick figures with that incredibly high metabolism who have always eaten every two hours or he starts getting a little vague and tired, and never in his life put on any (and I mean any) weight, no matter what or how much he has eaten.
The guys plunged headlong into a backyard blitz project that not only took their minds off their hunger and food, but the time and the fact that they couldn't sit down or play on any electronic things or read. By the mid afternoon, the day began to loom, and the energy levels dropped. The eight year old was getting quite restless and annoyed, and no amount of barley sugars was going to hit the spot with him I suggested a little bowl of rice for him and it was the answer. He felt much calmer. The boys by now had given up of the hard yards of the digging and were doing some drawing, but were getting annoyed with this as well, so I found a game that we hadn't played for ages and took this out. It all became about distraction.
My husband kept digging. Once the game was over I took at look at the yard and found him slumped and pale sitting in the dirt leaning on the fence. Time for a little bowl of rice. His metabolism wasn't really made for no food and hard yakka. He had gone for 17 hours, and the rice really lifted him. Rice really is a super food.
The 10 & 11 year old persisted and by the 23.5 hour mark, the pain of it was really showing. The 11 year old had done so much hard work and he had now run out of everything. I wanted him to eat a little bit of rice and lentils but he was crying in anger. The 10 year old was refusing point blank, but we knew that by now he really needed a little something. We talked about how the 40 hour famine is about the sponsorship and learning from the experience, but not competition. I peeled a mandarin, put the rice and lentils in front of them, and we made some toast for them. Eventually they ate a little and stopped crying and calmed down. It gave us a chance to talk about what Hunger really feels like, because now they know. They talked about how Lily in East Timor (who was in the World Vision video) must feel only eating one meal a day, and how maybe she might cry with hunger sometimes.
They also talked about how they could probably eat less all the time. I think that we all can.
Me, I found it tough too personally. It was tough going without furniture, finding somewhere to sit on the ground, and the hard old camping mattress. Cooking food and not being able to eat it was tough, but the toughest thing for me as a mother was having to manage a hungry family and wanting to just feed them. Of course, in the end I did, as I made the decision that they were too young. If I was, say in East Timor, I may not have been able to make that decision. A mother there doesn't have the opportunities that I have here, the barley sugars to keep them going, knowing that it will end on Sunday at lunch time, knowing that there is always an opt out if they fall apart. We are a land of opportunity, even us, who have so little, still have so much.
It was a great experience for all of us, especially doing it as a family. In the middle of it, the boys were crying that they would never do it again. At the end, they were planning what they were going to give up next year.
All up this year so far our family together has raised $895 to help end Global Hunger. If you want to do your bit to help end Global Hunger, the links to each of our profiles are: