Ben Affleck, Jonah Hill and Josh Groban are just some of the celebrities who recently took on the challenge to live below the poverty line by spending no more than $1.50 daily on food for five days.
They are accompanied by thousands around the country who annually join the “Live Below the Line” challenge, a campaign sponsored by an Australian charity, Global Poverty Project, to raise money and awareness for global poverty.
Based on the premise that 1.4 billion people worldwide currently live in “extreme poverty,” which is defined by the World Bank as getting by on $1.50 a day, the event is aimed at helping people in the developed world better understand those living in extreme poverty.
With 20,000 participants and nearly $ 4 million raised this year, the campaign has received major attention since top celebrities have pledged their support.
“Taking on this challenge was such a humbling experience for me… It’s amazing how much we take for granted not having to live in hunger,” singer Josh Groban said. He has participated in the challenge two years in a row and is the campaign’s third top fundraiser. In second place was Hunter Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden, and in first, Sydney Pederson, a 15-year-old high school student.
Ben Affleck also tweeted that he is joining the cause on behalf of his advocacy and grant-making program, the Eastern Congo Initiative, while actor and comedian Jonah Hill asked his Twitter followers to join him in supporting the cause. Meanwhile, actor Tom Hiddleston (“Loki” in The Avengers) tweeted about his experience living on omelets, beans, rice and vegetables. Actress Sophia Bush also participated, and admitted a moment of weakness during the challenge as she passed by a burger joint.
Ironically, the project’s celebrity front man, Hugh Jackman, told CNN that he has not actually taken up the full challenge of living below the poverty line, but has pledged to abstain from consuming coffee and sugar and using his computer for a week.
Although some criticize that the project doesn’t sufficiently raise poverty awareness since the daily $1.50 covers only food, and not all other expenses such as housing, health, education and transportation, which those living in extreme poverty must account for, the project has been successful in raising money. Through personalized fundraising pages, participants are encouraged to collect at least $50 in donations, which then support the Global Poverty Project and its charity partners.