In a few weeks, I’m going to take the Live Below the Line challenge. For five days, I’ll spend just $1.50 each day on food to raise funds and awareness for the 1.4 billion people worldwide who have to live below the extreme poverty line every day.
Living in suburban Chicago, it can be difficult to really grasp the effects of extreme poverty. I’ve traveled to parts of the world where hunger is a fact of life; however, in my everyday life here at home, I don’t always feel compelled by a sense of urgency to address this crisis.
I try to budget my food expenses each month, but I don’t actually have to live within those boundaries – if I want or need to go over budget on my daily meals, I can. Some mornings when I’m getting ready for work, I realize I don’t have any coffee beans in the house, but I don’t worry, because I can just stop by the coffee shop for a venti nonfat cappuccino that costs $4.28. (Yes, I have the exact amount memorized, and yes, I know that caffeine isn’t a necessary food group.) When I don’t have enough time to pack my lunch in the morning, I have the option to run over to the deli at lunchtime and spend $7 for a sandwich. When I get home late and don’t feel like making dinner, I can spend $12 for takeout Thai food from the restaurant down the street.
My trips to the coffee shop and the deli and the restaurant aren’t necessities, though – they’re luxuries. Many people around the world don’t even have enough to buy the food they need, and that’s why I’m living below the line. By skipping those trips and instead eating only $1.50 worth of food each day, I hope to experience – in a very small way – what daily life is like for so many people.
Although it’s valuable to have an experience that challenges you to view the world differently, I don’t want to simply take this challenge for the sake of experience. I also want to raise awareness and funds so that more people can have the opportunity to live above the line. Living on $1.50 per day for five days will be difficult, but I believe it’s a small step I can take to advocate for those who live below the line every day.
Join me in Living Below the Line by either taking the challenge with me, or by giving a gift which will help provide opportunities for others to work their way out of poverty.
Lauren Hawley is a Young Ambassador for Opportunity in Chicago. Sign up to Live Below the Line with Lauren at https://www.livebelowtheline.com/us-opportunity, or support her Live Below the Line fundraiser at https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/laurenhawley.