I've been asked A LOT of questions about Live Below the Line so I figured I would use this final post to answer some of your questions.
Q: So what's this I hear that you are not eating?
Live Below the Line is not a fast. It is a global campaign created to raise awareness of extreme poverty. US participants ate for five days on only $1.50 a day. I am raising money for the cause by getting generous folks to sponsor my efforts.
Q: How did you become aware of this program?
One of my favorite charities is the Rainforest Foundation US. This year they partnered with several organizations such as UNICEF, The Global Poverty Project, Shot @ Life, and CARE to promote Live Below the Line in the United States.
Q: Why would the Rainforest Foundation US be interested in extreme global poverty?
The mission of the Rainforest Foundation US is to support indigenous and traditional people of the world's rainforests in their efforts to protect their environment and fulfill their rights. In this regard the Rainforest Foundation US has always viewed the protection of rainforests as both an environmental issue and a human rights issue. While indigenous peoples represent only 5% of the world's population, they represent almost 15% of those living in extreme poverty. This is where the connection between human rights and land conservation really hits home. The destruction of rainforests isn't just about cutting down trees, it's about destroying communities and obliterating thriving indigenous cultures. Seamless assimilation for those forced off their lands is a fantasy, more often they are pushed out of the rainforest and into extreme poverty.
Q: Who came up with $1.50?
The World Bank developed this calculation in 2005.
National Poverty Lines = Cost of minimum calorie intake + equivalent non-food allowance
Basically it's what it costs in US currency to obtain the least amount of calories needed to stay upright, plus all the other stuff you need to make it through the day. Other countries do not get $1.50 US currency, the calculation is done in their currency.
Q: What's a non-food allowance?
Gas, shelter, hot water, medical care, etc. In others words the $1.50 I had just for food would need to cover ALL EXPENSES if I was truly living in extreme poverty. That's $547.50 a year - I spend more than that getting my hair done in a year!!!
Q: What in heck did you eat on $1.50 a day?
I was surprised that it wasn't so much about quantity of food but the quality of food. Aside from beans there was almost no room in the budget for fruits and veggies. We had no beef, chicken, or fish during Live Below the Line. What we did eat was a lot of rice, oats, and pasta, I also made a pot of lentil soup that was eaten throughout the week. We didn't go to bed with empty bellies, but we didn't go to bed feeling particularly satisfied either.
Q: Did you accept food donations?
Live Below the Line participants were asked not to accept donations of food. I can attest that some of the best cooks in the neighborhood offered to drop something by and I had to decline.
Q: Did your kids really understand it or did they just view it as a punishment?
At first they did view it as a punishment. But by the end of the week they really started getting it and started asking thoughtful questions about it. My son even gave a presentation to his 3rd grade class about Live Below the Line.
Q: So where is extreme poverty happening?
There is not a corner of the planet immune to the suffering of extreme poverty. Currently there are 1.4 BILLION people suffering world wide. That number is equal to the US population times SEVEN.
Q: 1.4 billion, that's a lot of people?
Here's another mind blowing statistic. In 2011 nearly eight million people died as a result of extreme poverty. That means more people died of extreme poverty last year than died of AIDS and all of earths natural disasters COMBINED. Extreme poverty is the global pandemic that nobody is talking about.
Q: So what can I do??
There are two great things you can do to support Live Below the Line. First off you can still make a donation in support of my efforts by visiting my Live Below the Line campaign page here. Live Below the Line is running the entire month of May, so if you've really been inspired you can register here, or you can even put together a group together to Live Below Line.
Thanks for taking this journey with my family and me. I hope you'll take the time to learn more about the global tragedy of extreme poverty, and do whatever to can to stop it.