Living Below the Line

My friend Cathy has been posting on Facebook this week about her experience participating in a challenge called Live Below the Line. For five days, she and her fundraising team are limiting what they spend on food to $1.50 a day.

The idea is to create awareness of the plight of 1.4 billion people all over the world who live in extreme poverty—people who must cover not just food but basic necessities with the equivalent of $1.50 per day.

Rice in a lunch of plantation worker

Rice in a lunch of plantation worker

The Global Poverty Project is the organizer, and they’ve partnered with U.S. charities fighting hunger and poverty around the globe. My friend and her group have chosen to raise money for CARE.

According to the site, Live Below the Line is running in the US, UK, and Australia simultaneously, with more than 20,000 people participating.

Cathy reports that this is the second year she’s participated in the challenge. “I found it such a powerful experience that I did it again. The lack of choice and the mental aspect are far worse than the reality of the food itself or serious hunger.” Her Facebook posts show how the eye-opening experience can increase a sense of gratitude and compassion:

  • Today I cannot help on reflecting how easy my life is overall. I cooked the rice in the rice cooker after rinsing it with my filtered water that I had to walk nowhere to retrieve. I soaked my beans overnight in filtered water and then cooked them on my gas stove with the mere twist of my wrist required to turn it on…
  • I felt a bit hungry after lunch. I have to be conscious of how much I eat so that I do not run out. Yes, I am a tad ashamed to admit, I have threatened my family members not to dare touch any of my rice or beans. Imagine if so little actually had to feed my family.
  • Today I had minor obsessions with the bananas and yogurt, both appeared so enticing. It did make me think about those whose livelihoods depend on the fruit and vegetables they grow—but must sell in order to make the meager income they provide.

Having empathy with people in vastly different circumstances is surely one of the things that is going to save all of us. In Cathy’s words:

“I am humbled by how easy my life is, simply by virtue of where I was born. Unfair. This week is about experiencing, raising awareness, and helping fund hand-ups—not hand-outs. If you are so inclined, please donate to CARE.”

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