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Thoughts on Living #BelowtheLine

By Opportunity International

This week, hundreds of Opportunity International staff, supporters and friends are participating in the Live Below the Line challenge - a challenge to eat and drink on less than $1.50 a day for five days in honor of the 1.2 billion people who live below the extreme poverty line every day. We are excited to celebrate a few of our LBL participants and their insights from the week. 

Why I'm Trying Not to Cheat by Samantha Snabes

Whelp, here it goes. My third year living below the line. Even as I type it I can’t believe how quickly the years slipped past and how much I still struggle at consuming less than $1.50 for a measly 5 days. It all began in 2013, the year that I went on a series of visits to Nicaragua with Opportunity International as well as the annual Summit. It was a year of introspection as the Social Entrepreneur in Residence for the NASA Open Government Initiative as a volunteer for Opportunity. I thought a lot that year about the blessings overlooked on a daily basis by gringos like myself. For this reason, it seemed only fitting to live, er fast, for a week in consideration of the extreme poverty faced by so many around the world. It wasn’t easy and shamefully, on a date one evening, I gave in to a 3 course meal, rationalizing that I was just being “considerate”. The remainder of the week I kept my commitment, and justified the slip up by not eating for the next two days to “make-up” for my reason. 

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So Many Factors to Consider by Abbey Rosenwinkel

Today at the end of my class, I had a classmate ask me how the challenge was going. Being a business student and thinking critically about the LBL challenge, he brought up all of the additional factors that need to be taken into consideration when living in poverty - things like the price of food preparation considering energy, water and cooking utensils. These elements are things that I have thought about daily. I've thought about how, despite the difficulty of the challenge, there are so many factors that make living below the line so much more difficult than I even imagine. For example, heat and housing aren't a part of this challenge budget, nor is water use, energy, and cooking items. In addition, I work at a desk for the majority of the day rather than a manual labor job. John and I discussed that a large number of impoverished people have physically demanding jobs or tasks to complete that require more energy and therefore, more calories. 

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Hope for a Better Future by Katherine Haley

The third day living below the line can always be a challenge. Food is bland, bones ache, and not feeling satisfied seems to gnaw the brain and stomach. But through it all, having family and friends cheer me (and the other #LBL participants) on really helps! I had lunch with a dear friend today. I forewarned what I was up to this week so we planned to have a picnic outside my office building.  

The weather was absolutely unbelievable and the confersation even better.  My friend apologized for picking up a salad from a local shop and for eating it in front of me; I told her no need!  Because of #LBL we talked about the things we take for granted - stopping by a shop and picking up a salad and drink could run easily $10 and grabbing a latte from Starbucks is almost $4! For some that's two weeks of food!  The neat thing about Living Below the Line (besides the mild headaches and stomach growls) is it leads to interesting conversations about people who live very differently and yet they - like us - have aspirational goals and big dreams of a better life for themselves and families.  It is sobering and hopeful! 

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Eating Trendy? Eating Healthy? by Dave Grigg

Two days down, three days left as I Live #BelowtheLine, spending only $1.50 per day on food and drink to raise awareness of extreme poverty and to raise funds to support the work of Opportunity International. As I survey the food that I am subsisting on this week, there is a glaring absence of brand names, well known trademarks, and the like.  Also, words like “organic,” “whole,” “free range,” or “craft” are conspicuously lacking.

In other words, when you are eating for survival, eating trendy goes out the window.  And so does eating healthy, I’m afraid.  For a couple years now I’ve been using the MyFitnessPal app, initially to assist with weight loss, and now to maintain a healthy weight.  On Monday (Day 1) when I hit the button signifying that I was finished eating for the day, the app gave this warning message in red letters “Based on your total calories consumed for today, you are likely not eating enough.”  Ya think??  The app then advised me that for a man trying to lose weight, 1200-1500 calories per day is the minimum range.  I’m eating 1093 calories each day this week.  The app concluded with the exhortation to “focus on nutrient-rich food and beverages.”  Then I threw my iPhone across the room (it survived, Otterbox). 

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