The late Elvis Presley once said ‘’don't judge a man until you walked a mile in his shoes’’.
Figtree resident Jodi Bush also believes empathy comes from walking in another person’s shoes.
That’s why the mother of two will eat like a refugee for a week as part of the Act For Peace Ration Challenge.
Ms Bush will eat meagre amounts of rice, beans, lentils, fish, oil and flour, to raise awareness and funds to provide vital food and medicine for Syrian families in Jordan.
‘’I’m under no illusions that I’m not really walking in their shoes in any way. But I mean it has definitely opened my eyes [to their struggles],’’ she said.
‘’I unpacked the ration box with my children and they were shocked at how little food there was. It’s heartbreaking to me knowing that people are trying to sustain themselves week to week on such a small amount.
‘’Even though it’ll be really challenging, I’ll be doing it with the comforts of my own home, a comfortable bed, clean drinking water and other amenities.
‘’There are people who are trying to survive on these rations while dealing with turmoil, fear, displacement and nothing to their names.’’
Ms Bush said she agreed to do the challenge because she wanted to make a ‘’tangible’’ difference, raise awareness and instill empathy in her children.
‘’When I asked my daughter what's a refugee, she said ‘’oh it's brown people trying to escape war’’...well you can’t blame her because people trying to escape war in places such as Afghanistan and the Middle East are the types of images we see a lot of.
‘’But, actually any of us could end up being refugees.’’
This year’s Ration Challenge coincides with Refugee Week (June 18-24), to generate awareness about issues affecting refugees.
Miss Bush said raising funds was important but she was more interested in starting conversations with her young children and others in the community.
‘’The number of conversations I’ve started on this is phenomenal. I did a presentation at work on it,’’ she said.
‘’I also recently met a Syrian refugee at a birthday party, who is coming to the ration dinner I’m holding, where I will cook a meal using ration ingredients. This lady spent seven years on the move with a one and half year old baby. Over half the population have been displaced since the war began. That's 11 million people. One in five people in Lebanon are Syrian refugees.’’
This year more than 14,200 Australians are taking part in the Ration Challenge, which was first held in 2014, raising $60,000. Last year’s event raised $2.1 million.
People can support Ms Bush on her fundraising page.