NEW YORK — What exactly does it mean to live below the line? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty line is a threshold dollar amount that determines poverty status. If an individual lives off of less than a certain amount per day, he/she is considered to be of poverty status and unable to meet basic needs of food, water, and shelter.
The World Bank defines extreme poverty or the current poverty line as those living on $1.50 a day or less. In the United States, this amount is barely enough to purchase a 16-ounce bottle of water let alone survive or thrive off of. Poverty not only limits a person’s resources but also choice.
Currently, there are 1.2 billion people in a state of extreme poverty. According to the World Food Program, 842 million people go to bed hungry at night and hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The numbers are daunting and overwhelming. Many people question what they can do to contribute to such a massive problem.
April 28th to May 2nd thousands of people around the world will be putting themselves in the shoes of those living in poverty by participating in the Live Below the Line challenge sponsored by the Global Poverty Project. Through this campaign, people hungry for change are given the opportunity to make a change.
In order to build awareness around extreme poverty and raise money for the cause, www.livebelowtheline.org asks people to commit to a 5-day challenge, living off of only $1.50 a day or a total of $7.50 for the full 5 days for all food and drink purchases. Similar to running a 5K, participants can ask for donations to sponsor and support their efforts.
Countries including, the Unites States, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Colombia are all involved in the campaign.
Participants can choose from several charity partners for their donations to go towards such as the Global One Foundation, Heifer International, UNICEF, The Hunger Project, Opportunity International and Build Africa.
To prepare for the campaign, the Live below the Line website offers helpful recipes and strategies for most effectively completing the challenge, including tips such as drinking tap water, and planning meals ahead of time. There is also a campaigning guidebook that offers advice on best ways to raise money. The guidebook covers topics regarding work, school and community audiences as well as how to get your social media audience engaged.
In the past years, over 50,000 people have participated in the Live Below the Line challenge and raised over $10 million towards global poverty. As is their intention, the challenge not only raises money but also creates a new population of people who have experienced and can sympathize with those in extreme poverty.
The challenge creates a memory of hardship for participants that are permanently linked to the living reality of those in poverty. In their own words, Live Below the Line is, “building a movement of passionate people willing and able to make a difference to those who need it most.” Experiencing the challenge helps those living above the line to stop ignoring issues that are hard to swallow and take action based on authentic understanding.
Although the challenge ends May 2nd, participants can continue sharing their experience and raising donations through May 30th. To maintain comfort is safe, but in accepting the challenge participants produce change in others and themselves. Will you chose to live below the line?
Sources: Live Below the Line, World Food Programme, United States Census Bureau