How much change can you make for $2.25?
A lot more when you pool your resources and work together.
How big a part does food play in your life? It’s not something we think about too much, since we have such easy access to it. But last week we came to appreciate how much food is built into our daily schedules.
Catch up with a friend? Grab lunch at a local cafe. Client meeting? Coffee and Tea please. Struggling to get through the mid-afternoon doldrums? Sugary snack to jumpstart the brain. Need to wind down after work? Glass of red.
Take those away and life start to get a little less fun. Then drastically cut your daily food intake and your ability to function becomes severely impaired. How do we know this? Well we, alongside 1400 other Kiwis, were Living Below the Line for a week, in an effort to raise awareness and funds around the global problem of extreme poverty.
Our involvement with the campaign started back in June when we helped Will and Patrick from the Global Poverty Project launch this years New Zealand Live Below the Line challenge; a campaign that has managed to get eight of the major aid organisations within New Zealand to collaborate, no mean feat.
After being immersed in the cause at the time of launch, we knew that we had to take the challenge ourselves, and live below the international extreme poverty line, on just $2.25 a day, for 5 days.
Living on such a small amount is all but inconceivable for those of us lucky enough to be born in the Western world, but for 1.4 Billion people around the world it’s their reality. They have to survive on that tiny budget, using it to pay for not just their food but also clean water, healthcare, education, shelter, everything! The aim of the campaign is to bring an end to this extreme poverty within a generation, to help those most in need to break out of the cycle that they’ve been born into.
Now lets be clear, this challenge in no way comes close to replicating the realities of those living below the poverty line, but it did give us valuable insight into some of the day to day struggles.
We knew it was going to be hard; that it was very likely that we would be hungry, grumpy, and sluggish. But we also knew as a team of three we could pool our resources, and lean on each for support (something that proved invaluable as we made our way through the week).
We created a very detailed daily plan for our meals, and tried to make sure that each meal was as filling as possible. We were never in danger of starving, but our struggles would be mental. Eating had to become more about survival, rather than enjoyment. Our meals, while in no way unpleasant, wouldn’t be particularly inspiring, but they would give us what we needed. We would have to deal with the fact we couldn’t just grab a snack when our stomachs rumbled, or sip a cup of tea for refreshment.
But we had no idea of the toll it would take on our workloads. The smaller portions paired with lack of sugar, coffee, and tea clouded our thoughts, slowed our responses and gave us splitting headaches.
Food also took up a whole lot more headspace than we expected. With such a strict budget, we couldn’t just grab something as we ran out the door. We had to make time to prepare and eat each of the three meals everyday. And much of the week was occupied just thinking about food too. Despite realising early on, talking about things we couldn’t have was tortuous, we couldn’t seem to help ourselves, and many of our conversations centered around that which we could not have.
As much as we complained last week, we were always brought back to reality by the fact that this is just a small taste of what life is like for a large portion of the worlds population. It’s a sobering perspective.
We finished the week with a renewed appreciation for the amount of choice we have when it comes to food, the ease of access to it, and how much we depend on it to help us get through the day.
And the challenge has proven to us once again how valuable it is to have a supportive network around you, to push you forward, help you out and bolster your efforts. Last week 1400 New Zealanders came together to let people know extreme poverty is something we can bring to an end, raising over $300,000 while we were at it.
There’s strength in numbers, and by simply working together and sharing resources, seemingly insurmountable challenges can become a lot more manageable, whether it be surviving on a tiny budget, or bringing an end to a global crisis.
The animated video that Curative’s lead crafter Kaan, produced to tell the story of Live Below The Line.