Most of us have been very sheltered growing up, particularly my friends in Manila. We never had to worry about food, nor how to prepare anything, because most days we come home to the smell of homecooked meals ready to be devoured in the warmth of our homes. We had people clearing our tables, washing the dishes and asking us what we wanted to have for brekky the next day.
When I moved to England I first lived with family in Bournemouth so it was pretty much the same set up. The challenge began when I moved to London because the cooking gene does not run in my family. Prepping meals became a challenge but it was a fun new skill to explore as there are means to make decent meals beyond ‘student dinners’ or ‘dorm food’. And when laziness creeps in, there’s always a takeaway or a restaurant to visit. I may not have always been comfortable.
I’ve been in a very funky “What-is-the-meaning-of-life” mood this week and while searching for a way to rejuvenate my soul, I chanced on my blogger buddy Alex’s tweet about participating in Live Below The Line. It’s a global fundraising and awareness campaign set to fight extreme hunger and poverty. The challenge is to eat and drink on a measly £1 per day for 5 days. That’s right – you’re not allowed to spend anything beyond a pound per day nor are you allowed to have freebies or ‘food donations’ from buds.
I first heard of the campaign from a client who did it last year. We’ve actually spun stories out of his experience in the trade press and I remember thinking how ridiculously hard it must have been for him and how crazy it was to immerse oneself in such activity. I mean… a fiver for a working week is what I’d usually spend on:
– 5 cans of soda
– 4 snacking popcorn bars
– 3 days worth of single shot espresso
– 2 cinnamon buns
– a glass of wine at a restaurant
I didn’t think I could do it. I love my food too much.
But then I realised what I spend on insubstantial food can actually pay for someone’s VERY basic daily expenses including a basic meal which stretches to two servings. It just doesn’t seem enough to survive. What if you suddenly fall sick? Is it really a matter of having to make the choice between living or going hungry? And if you live, would you want to face malnutrition and injustice? Why would you want to survive then, if you’re only going to be hungry all over? Truth is, over 1.2 billion people experience these dilemmas, which are only a few of the millions they face in extreme poverty.
In the hope helping in my own little way, I signed up to raise funds for Child Hope. The charity supports thousands of children in Africa, Asia and South America who are living in hunger and exploitation. These kids are often abused and violated and/or forced to work in dangerous conditions. They work in various countries, working with local NGOs to bring about long-term changes and to help these children turn around their lives to have the enjoyable childhood they deserve. They do this by providing shelter, education and mental/emotional support.
Someone asked, “Why do you have to do it yourself? Surely you can just donate money?”
The point is, it’s always been so easy to just give money and pay for someone to do stuff or for things we don’t even need. This is why it’s easier for us to take for granted what we are given because we don’t seem to value hard work as much anymore. How many times did you leave half the food on you plate thinking you can always buy something nicer? How many once/never-used clothes do you have in your closet? There’s so much waste going on while 1.2 billion people struggle to have staple necessities. I don’t want to be that person who just doesn’t care because I have money to spare; genuinely caring means understanding how the other half live. Aside from actually raising funds for Child Hope, and essentially The Global Poverty Project, I joined this campaign in hopes of spiritual healing, honing discipline, being more appreciative and grateful for the little things that count. Most importantly, this little step is having a piece of that much needed soul food I’ve been looking for.
Here’s to seeing how the other half live and here’s to hopefully coming out a better person.