While virtually exploring various countries over the years with the girls, the rich cultural diversity never ceases to amaze me, yet at the same time, the overwhelming prevalence of poverty is sobering.
When I heard about Live Below the Line, an awareness and fundraising campaign run by the Global Poverty Project, I was excited to join in. Here was a concrete way, if only in a small way, for our family to get involved.
1.2 Billion people around the world live in extreme poverty, which means their income has the purchasing power equivalent to us living on $1.75 (Canadian; $1.25 US or £1 UK) a day.
The challenge to Live Below the Line is to spend 5 consecutive days eating and drinking for under $1.75 each day. (Though promoted for participation from April 28 to May 2, the challenge and fundraising are open until June 30). Along with my sister, I started yesterday and for the next four days all ingredients for all meals must amount to less than $1.75 each day. Although the rest of the family aren't taking on the challenge, they have been part of the process, helping me shop, portion out and prepare, seeing how far (when it comes to beans), and how little (when it comes to produce and variety) that money can go.
|In India, 21% live in extreme poverty. We made green lentil daal to eat with rice.|
Photo Credit: Juan Luis Sanchez
So how did we spend that money? I could have bought a large bag of cheap noodles and a few cans of spaghetti sauce and called it a week. And, to be honest, it's possible I would have relished it. But that would have been too easy, and include too little nutritional value. I don't believe it would have inspired any real conversation about the reality of extreme poverty around the globe.
|Over 40 million Brazilians live on less than $2 a day, and approximately 20 million make less than $1 a day. We made Brazilian rice and Brazilian style pinto beans.|
Photo Credit: Danielle Pereira
Therefore my inspiration came from around the globe. Beans and rice are a common staple meal around the world, as a cheap and available source of many nutrients. We looked at countries with high rates of extreme poverty and found recipes of beans and rice commonly eaten there. By bringing our attention to specific countries (some of which we had studied in the past), it created a connection for the girls. Rather than an overwhelmingly large number they can't relate to (1.2 billion), we are talking about those families, those children, who hunger for similar food.
|1 in 6 of the world's poor live in China, where 13% live in extreme poverty. To add variety to oatmeal breakfasts, I'll also be eating congee.|
Photo Credit: Benjamin Tong
Of course, those living in these conditions must account for all living expenses, not simply food. Seeing what little is accumulated in food, it's difficult to wrap our heads around how anyone can feasibly do so. By choosing to do this challenge, I believe it will help us to better understand the lack of choice and opportunities many, much too many, people face.
|Sub Saharan Africa is especially affected, with a 54% rate of extreme poverty. In Liberia, 90% of people live in extreme poverty. We will be making black eyed pea fritters and Liberian black eyed pea soup.|
Photo Source: Gates Foundation