May 11, 2011
Thousands of Americans when they start the Live Below The Line challenge on May 16, will discover what it means to live in extreme poverty.
Participants will be allowed to spend seven dollars and fifty cents on food for five days.
A dollar and fifty cents is equivalent to the purchasing power that someone living in extreme poverty would have each day to spend not only on food, but shelter, health care, education and transportation, reports livebelowtheline.com
Co-founder Nick Allardice wants the campaign to spread awareness about the reality of extreme poverty across the globe.
"An issue like extreme poverty has a lot of overwhelming statistics and it all feels quite distant - it doesn't feel real," he said to The Sydney Morning Herald
"This provides a more realistic understanding of what extreme poverty is really like. We want to re-frame the issue, that it's not just about starving kids. You can get by but you have no safety net whatsoever."
The challenge is being held in the US, United Kingdom and Australia.
Hugh Jackman launched Live Below the Line in the US and UK, and Australian actress Kate Bell will be taking the challenge this year.
"I'm of the belief that if there's 1.4 billion people living below the poverty line and there's one small thing I can do to raise awareness and make a change then I should do it," Bell said to The Herald
Bell will need to hold off on coffee and chocolate and instead munch on carrots and rice.
"My plan is to boil the rice and have that as a staple and then maybe having a vegetable on top," she said. "I'll cook in bulk and then freeze it all.
"I'll miss caffeine and when you consider a normal coffee is $3.50, it really puts things in perspective. The real eye opener is that you have no options - you can't be fussy."
Activist and academic Julie Cowdroy completed the challenge last week and with $10 (the amount alloted in Australia), managed to buy rolled oats, a bag of carrots, a tin of tomatoes, one mandarin, two pears, an onion, five potatoes, a tin of lentils and some green tea.
After eating oats and water for the whole week, her perspective began to change.
"I learnt the value of sustainability and conservation," she said to the source.
"As I drained the can of lentils, some strayed into the sink and I panicked, scraping up every last one.
"I became aware of how soft I am. If you had to face this every day, you would be among the most resilient, brave, resourceful people in the world."
If you want to participate in the challenge, visit livebelowtheline.com