Can you live on $1.75 a day for five days? Some people don’t have a choice. This is the Live Below The Line challenge—a fundraising campaign that challenges people worldwide to raise awareness and money for those who have no choice but to live this way. An estimated 1.2 billion people worldwide currently live in extreme poverty which, in Canada, would equate to living on this amount per day per person for all needs. Funds raised during the challenge help not only help with hunger and nutrition in impacted areas but also help with education, health, literacy and many more areas that contribute to helping people move towards a more sustainable life.
I started to think about the ways that I could possible do it. I saw my instant noodles on sale for $0.59 and I could probably get day old bread for less than $2 that I could stretch out and reuse tea bags all day to get my caffeine. Pfft… maybe I could do it. But it’s more than just food; you have to LIVE off $1.75 for all needs? Yes, that includes other daily expenses that could arise. It’s not just about the food but medical expenses, personal hygiene and everything else in life that requires an exchange.
I spoke with a few people who have taken the challenge in the past years. Each one of them mentioned that this experience not only opened their eyes to the daily needs of impoverished people but also the way they now purchase and consume food. No longer are they buying in excess or seeing food go to waste. They just can’t. What was also an eye-opener is learning that there are ways to still choose healthier options even on such a insanely small change purse. Some of the previous participants mentioned that the challenge had forced them to understand the need for nutrition on desperate measures. “I thought I could live off instant noodles and water but I felt like crap the first year! The second time I did it, I was more creative and planned out carefully at Kensington Market buying bulk for the week,” said one previous participant.
Aside from the eating aspect, I was surprised to learn that moms around the world in these dire conditions were the most malnourished. I sat in my seat quietly and I admit to getting emotional over this one piece of information. As moms, we would give everything to our children. EVERYTHING. It’s no different for these women. No matter how hungry and pained they are, they will always give their portions to their children. As mothers, we are all the same and it doesn’t matter about culture, race, religion, class or upbringing. It’s in our nature. We give to our kids whatever we are able to.
Think you’re up for this challenge? This is what you need to know…
Live Below The Line is a global challenge. You can register at livebelowtheline.ca and select the organization that you would like to see your fundraising efforts pegged for. There are a list of 11 partners on the site including Corssroads International, ONEXONE, Oxfam Canada, Raising the Village, Tin Roof Global, Make Poverty History, Canadian Hunger Foundation and more.
How it works:
From April 27 to May 1, 2015, participants can spend no more than $1.75 a day per person for five days on all food and beverages. You cannot accept donation of foods or money from friends and family and you must purchase your items. No dipping into existing foods (even salt/sugar) either! Participants can create online profiles on the site which can be used as a platform to explain their reasons for participating, who they’re fundraising for, set their fundraising targets and capture online donations. You can get all the details at the website.
1. Pool your resources together. If you have a few friends or co-workers who are interested in the challenge, communal efforts can help to stretch the funds.
2. Plan meals ahead, it’s not going to be easy and you’ll crave certain things like salty foods so think about nutritional value. Empty calories are just that and won’t sustain you. Go for bulk grains and lentils. There are actually some delicious recipes available at the site.
3. Drink plenty of water or reuse a teabag several times to give you a bit of flavour.
4. When you’ve finished the challenge ease into food slowly to give your body time to adjust back.
If you’ve done the challenge before, feel free to share your tips in the comments section below for some encouragement!