Below the Line

Poverty

Most of us are aware of so many problems facing our world today; extreme poverty, wars and conflicts, global warning or climate change, deforestation, rising sea levels, the obesity epidemic, the financial crisis, frictions between the haves and have-nots, the list is long and frightening.

Some of us feel cynical when faced with those realities, while some feel guilty. That is probably mostly the case when thinking about poverty eradication campaigns.

It is easy to dismiss those who believe that it is possible to end global poverty as dreamy idealists. We base our dismissal on evidence presented everywhere of corrupt despots holding governance, and therefore while this is the case there is nothing we can do.

It is perhaps less easier to feel guilty. Because every time we drop a coin to the street beggar, donate to charity, or attend anti-poverty campaigns, we feel a bit better about ourselves and our social consciousness. Every pang of guilt we feel confirms to us that we are decent human beings.

And yet despite the years of campaigns, concerts and various forms of aid, global poverty remains. Clearly something more, something different is needed.

This is where Live Below the Line comes in. It is relatively new anti-poverty challenge that started in 2009 by Global Poverty Project (GPP). Unlike anything before, Live Below the Line aims to change the way we think about poverty. And when the way we think about poverty is changed, a movement is born. To lift millions of people out of poverty, charities and aids are not enough, only radical shift in our consciousness can do that. Without a guilt and without a pity.

Because while guilt and pity might motivate your one-off donation, or even regular donations; feelings of guilt and pity will eventually act in opposite direction. In time resignation and feeling of hopelessness will set in. And this is when further actions are paralysed.

Figures show that extreme poverty halved between 1980 and 2005; from 52% of the world’s population to 25%.

So far only four countries participate in the Live Below the Line challenge; New Zealand, Australia, the USA, and the UK.

Those who choose to participate in the challenge have $11.25 to spend on food for five days while gaining sponsorship for charity of their choice; Oxfam, Tear Fund, World Vision, Unicef and some others.  They are rules and there are clear; no free, donated food is allowed. If food items are already available to the household (such as: spices, rice, flor, or home-grown food) they can only be used if their cost per gram is worked out. Members of household can pool their daily allowances.

While living on $2.25 a day, participants in those four countries are still easily able to access clean water, warm shelters, medical and educational facilities. They can still text, use internet, drive, even buy designer clothing if they choose to. All things those living their daily lives in poverty cannot.

But that does not make the challenge any lesser. Because those who have experienced living on $2.25 per day will learn that, when hungry, no designer shop or electronic gadget however flash holds any appeal. When hungry even the most interesting teachings cannot be followed. When hungry, there is only one thought – to eat.

This is why the Live Below the Line is the start of something different, something bigger. Because it aims to build consciousness and teach compassion, understanding and education, rather than making us reach for our wallets to appease feeling of guilt.

‘Poverty is the worst form of violence.’ (Gandhi)

Author: Daniela

Reader, Writer, Mother, Freethinker, Habitual Day Dreamer, Blogger - Sharing Ideas, Poetry, Prose, and Conversations on the Lantern Post!

19 thoughts on “Below the Line”

  1. A different way of looking at the problem of poverty. I think even as those four countries seek to improve the lives of others, the despots and policy makers who make their people live in endless cycles of poverty should either be removed or these actions should be aimed directly at the people.

    The aid organisations must also reduce their overheads or else all the money received will end up paying salaries, allowances and so on and will not meet it’s desired ends.

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    1. Hi,

      You are right; actions must reach people in need. Participants must know how money they raised is used. Line is a bit more flexible as every participant can chose the charity. As for overheads; I have checked the figures, in 2011 GPP spent only 17% of all funds raised on administration cost. For a global organization such as GPP that is very, very good.

      Many thanks for reading and commenting,
      Daniela

      Like

      1. I thought so … it is hard, but if each one of us helps just a little bit to those who can’t help themselves and their families … with time and patience we will make a change. Ghandi made a change.
        Many thanks,
        Daniela

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    1. Hola José,
      Muchas gracias por leer y comentar. También estoy muy triste por todo esto … no podemos mirar hacia otro lado, cada uno de nosotros debemos hacer lo que podamos!
      Gracias una vez más,
      Todo lo mejor,
      Daniela
      P.S. I have used Google translator, so please excuse any mistakes!

      Like

  2. Changes will only happen when everyone realize that it all “too close to home”. When we understand that the basic human psyche has to change from “Survive! even if that is alone”, vs “to survive, we need each other”. I.e. Believe that the fittest is all of us…

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    1. Hi there,

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting -:))) Yes, indeed; as humans we need each other’s. This is why initiatives that tackle social consciences are so valuable.

      Many thanks,
      Daniela

      Like

  3. I agree that there needs to be a shift in consciousness, however I think that there are many people who give out of a passion to make a difference and not out of guilt. The key to stopping poverty is education (sustainability and self-sufficiency) Even if change comes into only one life, there is inevitably a ripple effect in others. It’s a very complex issue and I’m glad you shared about the “Live Below the Line” campaign, I had ever heard of it.

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    1. Hi Melody,

      Thank you for another thoughtful comment.

      I cannot agree more with your views! I also firmly believe that key to eradicating poverty is education, especially in areas of sustainability, self-sufficiency and health care. A ripple effect is noted each and every time just one family member or even a community member is lifted from extreme poverty.

      Many thanks,
      Daniela

      Like

    1. Hi Alice,
      Indeed this is so. If we all just undertake small gesture in our world, our own neighbourhoods, those in need we see around us, world will be a better place.
      Many thanks,
      Daniela

      Like

  4. Many can live poor and be happy, and many can live rich and be unhappy. If the world eliminate the poor, and so will they eliminate the Earth left resources. So there is a dilemma, the problem is not the poor alone, it is also the rich, and richer problems. It all bolts down to our modern lifestyle and economic model, that is the only way to save the poor, and the global climate change, and the earth resources. Until then, we would keep hammering the problem, without realising the hammer itself is a problem.

    kc

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    1. Dear KC,

      Thank you very much for your considered comment. I appreciate your views and indeed concur with the view that problem of poverty is both complex and multifaceted.

      Many thanks,
      Daniela

      Like

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