Choose your sacrifices!

To experience what it might be like to be an orphan, choose from our suggested sacrifices below or come up with your own ideas. Be careful not to select activities that will put you or any member of your team at risk, but, remember, the more challenging you make your “7 Days of Nothing” experience, the more rewarding it will be. So, we suggest you select at least 7 things — one from each of the 7 categories below — and give those up for at least 7 days.

If you want to stretch a little, consider adding additional sacrifices or extending your “7 Days of Nothing” to 30 days or even longer. You may even want to consider making “7 Days of Nothing” an annual experience for you or your family.

1. Food

Starvation and malnutrition are worldwide problems. Can you imagine eating only one meal a day? Or still being hungry after you eat? Going to bed hungry? Eating the same thing every day? Eating contaminated food? Having to beg for your food?

  • Go without food and water for 24 hours. (We know of some people who have chosen to make this sacrifice once a month for life and, each month, to donate the amount they would have spent on food.) Note: Pregnant mothers should not fast.
  • “Beg” for food from your family and friends, i.e., ask them to provide one of your meals so you can donate what you would have spent to help an orphan.
  • Eat only rice for a day.
  • Live on basic food staples, such as plain rice, beans, or oatmeal, etc., for a week or more.
  • Cook your food over a fire or on a grill for a day or for the entire week.
  • Eat just one meal a day.
  • Eat only food that does not have to be refrigerated.
  • Go without refined sugar, flour, or processed foods.
  • Eat only foods in their most natural state possible, like fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds.
  • Avoid eating at fast food locations or restaurants.
  • Eat smaller portions than usual, this may just improve your health!
  • Avoid all convenience or prepackaged foods.
  • Give up one indulgence, such as your daily latte, chocolate or cola.
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2. Water

Millions of children in the world do not have access to clean water to drink, wash or cook with. Even the water they walk long distances to fetch and haul it back to their homes is typically dirty and may not be safe for drinking.

  • Forego running water for the week (to the extent possible).
  • Use only water that you have filled and carried home from the home of a neighbor or other location within walking distance from your home.
  • Sterilize all drinking water by boiling it on a stove, a grill, or over an open fire.
  • Go a day or two without bathing, or take only sponge baths.
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3. Electricity & Fuel

Many households don’t have access to electricity. That means these homes have no lights, no refrigeration, no air conditioning, no TV, no computer, no Internet, no cell phone, no Xbox, no blow dryer, straightener or curling iron. Most don’t have fuel for cooking, let alone for cars … few have cars.

  • Don’t use electricity for an entire day. (Caution: Do this only where weather is not too extreme.)
  • Read at night by candlelight.
  • Cut down on driving, or don’t drive at all for a week. Instead, take the bus or ride a bike.
  • Forego warm or heated water.
  • Wash clothes and dishes by hand with unheated water.
  • Wear only one set of clothing for the week.
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4. Waste

Millions of children don’t have showers, tubs, sinks or toilets. They have no sewer system, garbage pickup, or dumps, so garbage builds up outside. For much of the world’s population, paper goods are not available or are much too expensive.

  • Don’t use anything from a disposable container.
  • Don’t use paper towels, napkins, aluminum foil, plastic bags or plastic wrap.
  • Shop using only baskets or reusable bags.
  • Take your own trash to the landfill.
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5. Education & Literacy

What would it be like if you had no access to education? What if you couldn’t read, write, add, subtract, etc.?

  • Every time you need to read or write something, ask someone else to do it for you.
  • Go on a literacy fast, meaning no reading books, mail, newspapers, magazines, cereal boxes, etc.
  • Instead of reading books to your children, tell stories
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6. Entertainment & Technology

Imagine living your life without toys, hobbies, travel or technology of any kind, like orphans and many others do.

  • Put away all the toys and use your imagination.
  • Do without video games, TV, radio, movies, etc.
  • Don’t use iPods, computers, cell phones, or microwaves for a week.
  • Put away all of your watches and clocks for seven days.
  • Refrain from going swimming or playing golf, basketball, soccer or tennis.
  • Give up drawing, painting or other hobbies for a week.
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7. Peace, Love, Family

Millions of children have become orphaned or displaced due to wars, terrorism and persecution. For this sacrifice, think in terms of giving up behaviors that diminish peace or detract from loving relationships with family or friends. Implementing actions like those listed below won’t save you money, but they won’t cost anything either, yet they can help you lay a foundation of peace and goodwill.

  • Smile at everyone you see.
  • Don’t complain or criticize others.
  • Practice “random acts of kindness” three times a day.
  • Use only kind words and speak softly.
  • Make a list of qualities you admire in your family members or friends and share the list with each one.
  • Make peace with someone.
  • Never win an argument.
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Click here to access the 7 Steps of 7 Days of Nothing, for more information about how to implement “7 Days of Nothing.”

Click here to see a list of “25 Ways to Help” for additional ideas on how to help orphans.




“7 Days of Nothing” is part of the Families for Orphans program of Global Helping Advance Women & Children (GLOBAL HAWC dba Family Watch International).  To learn more about the broader work of GLOBAL HAWC to defend the family and children, visit