This week, thousands of people around the globe committed themselves to spending just $1.50 per day on food and drink, in order to raise awareness for global poverty. The campaign is called Live Below the Line, and it is encouraging people to relate to extreme poverty in a whole new way.
Live Below the Line started in 2009 in Australia. Since then, the cause has spread to the world’s most affluent countries: the United States, Canada, Britain, and New Zealand.
Those who participate in Live Below the Line use the cause to fundraise for charities that fight global poverty, including UNICEF, the World Food Program, and the Global Poverty Project. This week, over $350,000 has been raised in the United States alone.
Around 1.4 billion people in the world live in extreme poverty, which is defined as living on less than the equivalent of $1.50 USD per day. This does not mean that the world’s poorest people have $1.50 USD to spend each day in their own countries – $1.50 goes much further in many places than it does in the US. Rather, they live on the equivalent of $1.50 per day, based on their country’s currency and cost of living.
Imagine what it would be like to spend just $1.50 per day on food and drink. Now imagine that was all you had to cover all of your needs, including shelter, transportation, education, health care, and everything else. You would be forced to make tough decisions every single day, and would often have to go without things that you consider essential. You probably wouldn’t have reliable access to clean drinking water, sanitation, or enough food to eat every day.
Critics of Live Below the Line point out that the challenge doesn’t subject participants to the true conditions of extreme poverty, because after the challenge is over, they can eat a steak or go to Starbucks. But no one should criticize the validity of the project until they have tried it themselves – in the words of Hugh Evans, one of Live Below the Line’s founders, “By the end of the week you realize… you’re not getting enough basic calories, so you feel that hunger – you feel it for the first time.”
To get just a small taste of what it’s like to live in extreme poverty, take the Live Below the Line challenge to eat and drink on just $1.50 per day for five days. Wait until the global challenge comes around next year, or commit yourself to it for one day or one week. Tell your friends and family about the challenge, and ask them to contribute to an anti-hunger or anti-poverty charity on your behalf.
Live Below the Line is an initiative of the Global Poverty Project, which educates citizens about extreme poverty through its multimedia presentation, “1.4 Billion Reasons” (see above video). For more information on Live Below the Line, or to get involved, fundraise, or see recipes, visit the Live Below the Line website.
Source: Live Below the Line
Video: Global Poverty Project