As a member of the ActionAid fundraising team, I have been overwhelmed by the support for Live Below the Line this year. Over 300 supporters have signed up to take part!
I felt it was only fair to take on the challenge myself, to fully understand the lengths to which our amazing supporters have gone to help us raise money. I knew it would be hard but I was not expecting to learn so much about myself. I’ve even discovered a new emotion I never knew I was capable of…and it’s only day 1!
I know that I have been very lucky to be born in a wealthy country and to never have had to suffer one day without food and drink. I was keen to take the challenge in order to be able to experience the extreme poverty that 1.2 billion people endure worldwide and gain a better perspective of their daily struggles.
I spent my weekend before the challenge putting together a well-balanced meal plan for the 5 days and even managed to afford some 47p coffee as my luxury item!
So after feasting on a Chinese takeaway on Sunday night to satisfy my taste buds before the challenge began, I went to bed optimistic about the next 5 days. I woke up Monday morning and eagerly made my routine cup of coffee, but this didn’t taste like my usual coffee, in fact, it actually tasted more like gravy.
This didn’t get me off to the best start!
Learning to compromise
It was then I realised that my limited £1 a day budget did not just mean I would be compromising on quantity, but also the quality of what I am eating and drinking. I had expected to be eating small portions, but the fact that I couldn’t even enjoy eating and drinking was even harder to accept.
I tried to put off having my breakfast for as long as possible and was quite proud that I was able to refrain from eating until 11am, when I began to obsess over the idea of my banana sandwich.
Hunger v Hanger
When my sandwich didn’t really touch the sides, all I could think about was food for the rest for the day. I hit my usual low point in the office at about 2pm and my productivity levels started to drop, usually I would reach for a bag of crisps or sweets to perk myself up.
All I had to cheer myself up this afternoon was a cup of gravy-coffee, which actually just made me feel more hungry and a little angry in truth! This lethal mix of hunger and anger developed into a new emotion for me: Hangry!
In the midst of my ‘hanger’ it was easy to forget why I agreed to do this crazy challenge in the first place. Then I remembered that while it’s only a 5 day challenge for me, this level of poverty is a daily reality for millions of people. Which is when I decided to suck it up and stop complaining – after all, I had four smart price sausages to look forward to for dinner!
It’s not too late to help us
What I’ve learnt so far is that living below the poverty line is not easy! This challenge is a great opportunity for everyone to come together and raise awareness about the continuing fight against poverty.
Photos: Danielle Ross/ ActionAid