Think of the last time you were hungry. Now multiply it by days, weeks, months. As Ghandi said, “Poverty is the worst form of violence” .
It’s just over a month before I begin my Live Below The Line challenge and I have been met with various looks of incredulity, confusion, and some have looked at me like I’ve lost my marbles. The most common question is ‘Why?’ and ‘How?’ or followed by a cynical comment or amazement that it is possible.
“You think you can live off £1 per day? Here in the UK? That’ll never happen!”
“£1 goes a lot further in poor countries though. It won’t buy you much here.”
I find myself explaining to people that the extreme poverty line for the United Kingdom IS just £1 and that people in the UK live off of that every day. Poverty isn’t confined to ‘lands far away’. It isn’t something that only happens in war-torn, poor, drought and famine-ridden countries. It is a frightening reality for people who live in the same city as you. And that £1 per day isn’t just for food and drink – it is for everything. When people remark that it is impossible to live off of that – they are just the people this campaign exists to speak to.
Last May, I took part in the campaign and lived below the line while living in Prague, Czech Republic. My posts from last year’s challenge can be seen here, here, and here in a reflective post for Development in Action and The Global Poverty Project. One thing that struck me in my time living below the line was the simple lack of choice and the inability to be a ‘food snob’. I became acutely aware of just how much money I waste on bits and pieces of food and drink. Stopping by Starbucks for a tall Americano was the equivalent of two days living costs for people living below the line. The Dominos pizza order on pay weekend would amount to a fortnight’s living costs splurged in one meal.
Live Below The Line last year changed a lot of my views and the way I lived my daily life. My friends and family will testify to my hatred of food waste, my insistence that excessive amounts of food are not bought or cooked, my love of vouchers, coupons and deals, and my annoying (at times) soapbox moments regarding poverty.
I’ll be living below the line this year for 12 days, from the 30th April till the 11th May. I am living in a new city, with new colleagues and a new set of daily interactions. The opportunity to create awareness and draw more attention to this issue is one I will be embracing. I will be blogging my way through the experience, and the money I raise will be going to UNICEF.
If you would like to donate, please go look at my official Live Below The Line page: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/elleenelle