Living Below the Line

This week I’m taking part in a wonderful campaign that was founded  by the organisation I work for, The Oaktree Foundation.

The grassroots campaign launched in 2010 called ‘Live Below the Line’ challenges participants to live on $2 a day for 5 days – essentially living below the poverty line. Participants create menus based on food which accumulates to $2 a day (not much!) whilst also raising funds for overseas projects of The Oaktree Foundation, or the work of the Global Poverty Project (the partner organisation for this campaign.)

Funds raised by Oaktree will be sent to our education projects in Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and East Timor. I’m particularly excited about this last project, because I’m blessed enough to be travelling to East Timor in July with Oaktree on their ‘Our Generation’s Challenge’ trip (but more about that in another post!) I’ll be visiting our projects to see the impact our money is making in this country – so will be able to report back firsthand just how much a difference your donation is making in some of the Timorese youth!

Currently I’m already in Day Two of Live Below the Line, but wanted to provide a reflection upon each day of the campaign, so here are some feelings from Day One.

I’ve experienced a rollercoaster of feelings about my $2 journey so far.

On Sunday night as I made my purchases for $10 ($2/day x 5 days) I felt excitedabout challenging myself to wear the shoes of 1.4 billion people in our world who are barely surviving on $2 a day.  As I walked around Coles for almost 30 minutes trying to get the best deals, I thought about how much choice we are blessed with here in Australia – from which is the most economical pumpkin to buy, to whether I got the Coles cheapest or mid-tier brand of food. These choices are sadly not available to almost 1/3 of our world, and it really makes you consider just how much of a ‘challenge’ this week really is.

I did pretty well at the checkout; I managed to get: 1kg of rice, 1 kg of pasta, 1kg of carrots, a pumpkin, 4 potatoes, 500g of oats, 1L of milk and 7 cubes of chicken stock – but I knew I was in for a pretty bland week of food and began to feel quite nervous!

Monday morning came and I tried to get up as late as possible, because if I pushed my breakfast really late, I wouldn’t have to eat lunch! Woke up at 10am and waited till I felt starving at midday before eating breakfast – a small bowl of porridge which thankfully filled me up till dinner time! After breakfast, I must admit I was feeling pretty confident with how the week would turn out.

During the day I was cleaning out one of my bags and found 10 cents, which I accidentally threw in my bin moments later with bits of other rubbish. At first I walked away and though, ‘Oh well, it’s only 10 cents’ but then it occurred to me that 10 cents is a whole 5% of what I’m surviving on each day at the moment – I NEEED TO FIND THAT 10 cents! For the next 10 minutes, filled with determination I searched through my bin until that 10 cents was found – this campaign has definitely made me realise the HUGE value of money.

I made it through the day until dinner, for which I cooked up 2 carrots and rice flavoured with chicken stock. I took this delicious (ha!) meal off to my Oaktree meeting so that I could share my stories from the day with other Live Below the Line participants. As we ate our dinner together, the room was full of much jealousy as we saw how other participants had gotten lucky in the supermarket and seemed to have much better and tastier meals then our own! I only managed to eat half the rice I’d cooked – it was so filling and ended up giving me cramps later – reminding me of how my stomach often felt in Ghana – too many carbohydrates!!!

Whilst I haven’t really been hungry, I also haven’t been bothered to eat because the food I’m eating is so bland and eating has become a chore of sustenance.

As I embark on Day Two of Live Below the Line (update later tonight!) I’m constantly reminded of the people that I’m doing this for, and this encourages me not to give up the fight to see extreme poverty eradicated in my lifetime!

If you’ve been moved by this campaign, I would love you to sponsor me in this challenge, with all funds going to Oaktree’s projects. I promise to give you a detailed report of just how crucial this money is to some of the world’s poorest people when I return from East Timor in a few months! Thank YOU in advance 🙂

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