Live Below The Line

Game Plan

To spend no more than $2 a day on food next week. This sum is commensurate with being below the level of extreme poverty in developing countries. I’ll live this way for 5 days and share my experiences here. By doing so, I hope to raise awareness, start conversations, and raise $1000 towards the fight against poverty.

The Cause

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Everything you need to know about why and how this challenge is set can be found on the Live Below The Line website. But in summary, I’ll lift these excerpts for you:

Close to a quarter of the world’s population lives below the extreme poverty line, which means they have just AU$2 a day or less to cover all their daily expenses – housing, education, health, transport and food.

Surviving on such a tiny amount, almost all their income must be spent on food. Even then, they can generally only afford two basic meals a day. They have little to no money left for the other necessities of life.

Live Below the Line is a campaign that’s changing the way Australians think about extreme poverty – and making a huge difference – by challenging everyday Aussies to live on $2 a day.

What I Think

When I first heard about this challenge via Leaf (The Indolent Cook), I instantly thought “ai yah, sure very easy one… everyday just eat steamed rice and soya sauce, and voila! I’m a glamorous fundraiser!”. But my swashbuckling confidence started to falter as I got more serious about tackling this challenge. I began to realise that many things will have to be given up for the duration of the trial.

After engaging with fellow foodies Winston, Daisy & Fakegf, we’ve formed a small team called Food Lovers Collective. If you’re doing this challenge as well, please join our team! All foodies are welcome! Let’s see how much we foodies, as one cohesive unit, can raise for this cause! And let’s give each other encouragement and support!

I think this challenge will be particularly interesting coming from a foodie’s perspective. I’m a food blogger. I live to eat, and being constrained to $2 a day seriously stifles so many eating options that were previously assumed as givens. I won’t get to eat out, no midday chocolates, no after work beers… and the worst thing of all, no good coffees for 5 days. Nooooo!!!

I feel slightly hypocritical doing this challenge. I’m imagining us participants cooking our humble $2 meals in bourgeois residences using expensive le creuset pots. And no matter how hard the challenge is going to be, there’s always the easy knowledge that there’s an end point: it’s only going to last 5 days.

So how can I help ease some of that weight off my conscience? I’ve decided for each day during the challenge, I’ll subtract one of life’s luxuries (like gadgets, car, hot water) as an added trial. And on the final day, if my health will allow it, I’ll remove a life necessity: food. I am doing these extra tests out of my own accord and it’s just a way to propel me to think deeper. These added trials will be taken with safety in mind and I’ll call it quits the moment I think it’s affecting me too much.

Logistics

Fakegf will be my main partner for this task at hand. She’s the one doing all the menu planning (and cooking) while I try to chronicle our thoughts & experiences during this challenge.  As we got into the logistics of it, it became scarily obvious how much we have taken for granted.

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We realised that our pantry is basically off limits. Spices, salt, sugar and even herbs from the garden needs to be factored into the budget. This means we probably can’t even use stock to make our stews, or milk to go with oats in the morning. Gifts from friends can’t be accepted, and we’re not even allowed to dumpster dive (not that we’d want to).

I’m really glad Fakegf is at the helm with deciding what we will eat, I was stressing about going hungry. But I think she’s planned ahead well and we now got a good game plan on how we will eat for 5 days.

Final Thoughts

Many thoughts and light bulbs have already gone through my head even before we’ve started the challenge proper. I will document things as we go along, and hope you’ll continue reading my follow up posts. Meanwhile, you might be interested in reading how Leaf went with the challenge, she did it a few weeks in advance to help guide us. Keep a lookout for my teammates as well: Winston, Daisy & Jade.

Let’s also remember some of the fundamental things that we, as more fortunate people, can’t even forgo even if we wanted to. I call them life’s infrastructures. A stable family, rich childhood, an education, a degree, a job, a passport, a home, a future. With such baseline ‘credentials’, I concede that what I’ll be experiencing during this challenge will only scratch the surface of how it’s REALLY like living below the line.

But in its own way, this is still a big step for myself… A step away from apathy, and a step towards a deeper understanding.

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I’m hoping to raise funds for this cause. The campaign hopes to raise $2 million this year. My personal goal is $1000. If you can help in any small way, that would be fantastic.

My personal Live Below The Line profile is at https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/fatboo. That’s where you can give your support, and sponsor me as I live below the line to fight against poverty. Daily blog entries will be uploaded on that site too.

For those of you who want to know where the money goes, here’s a chart that explains it all transparently.

Follow Up Posts

Live Below The Line (Midway) – Prep Work, Days 1 & 2
Live Below The Line (End) – Closing Thoughts, Days 3, 4 & 5