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Join the 40 Hour Famine Backpack Challenge

Beginning 8.00pm on Friday August 11 and concluding August 13, the 40 Hour Famine Backpack Challenge will shine the spotlight on what World Vision calls “the biggest humanitarian crisis of our generation” – the refugee and displaced persons crisis.

Globally, it says, there are more than 65.5 million people who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict. More than half of them are children. Here are some other alarming facts:

  • There are now more refugees in the world – currently 21.3 million – than at any time in recorded history
  • Globally, more than 65.1 million people have been forced to flee their homes
  • There are 40.8 million internally displaced people. The highest total on record. Ever


Backpack Challenge

To understand what it’s like for the children who have had to leave most of their belongings behind, World Vision is asking us to pack only the essentials – food, water, warmth – and survive on them for 40 hours.

Sign up here and then ask everyone you know on social media to support you. There are plenty  of resources to help motivate you throughout the weekend and, ultimately, raise vital funds that will enable World Vision to help refugee children and their families rebuild their lives.

7 tips for talking about the global refugee crisis with your kids

Originally developed for teachers and leaders, these seven, age appropriate tips are a great way to help children comprehend the concept of war, process what they might be seeing on the nightly news, and hopefully, as World Vision says, “find their own voice on humanitarian issues affecting the world.”

  1. Speak honestly, but use language they understand

For younger children, use situations they can understand, like leaving home without saying goodbye, leaving possessions behind, and searching for safety. For older kids, talk about what it means to be a refugee, the complexity of the Syrian situation, persecution, and the difficult journey to seek refuge.

  1. Listen and let them express their feelings (and don’t be afraid if you don’t have all the answers)

Children will respond to information in different ways. The level of violence is hard to understand. It’s okay to admit that it’s hard for anyone to understand this, and don’t be afraid to seek answers together.

  1. Create hope by showing all the good people are doing

Share the stories and images of those helping across the world, and of former refugees who have created new lives in a new country. Here are some videos you can watch together.


  1. Make your children feel safe in Australia

Talk about Australia being a safe country – with younger children, emphasise they’re safe in their home, school and community. With older children, you might talk about democracy, stability, laws, freedom of speech, and religion.

  1. Help them understand that refugees are just like us

Discuss what life was like for a child in Syria before the crisis. Children went to school, went to each other’s houses, went shopping, played sport, listened to music, practiced their faith, played games – just like us. With older students, you can also talk about refugees searching for a safe place to live, to have shelter, food, education, healthcare, to bring up a family without fear.

  1. Don’t be afraid to tell your kids they can make a difference

It’s important that children feel they can make a difference. For younger children, this may be explored by asking what they would need if they arrived in a new country. How could they be kind and helpful to a child from Syria arriving in Australia? Older students can also offer friendship and support on a personal level – they’re able to understand the role of support agencies both at home and overseas.

  1. Finish the conversation with hope

Emphasise hope, kindness and that everyone can do something to help. Talk about ways to help as a family, school or community, and about how taking part in this year’s 40 Hour Famine Backpack Challenge is a fantastic way to help support refugees in Syria, South Sudan, and neighbouring countries.

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Veda Dante

Veda Dante is an accomplished journalist, consultant and content creator who has nearly 30 years’ experience writing about everything from tourism, hospitality and health to architecture, pools and luxury goods. When she’s not producing copy for clients, this self-confessed word nerd is usually writing and photographing the Byron Bay region for her blog

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Homeloans Ltd.