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12 April 2013

Living below the line

Living below the line

My husband, Oli and I, are in our early 20s. We both have good jobs in a bank’s head office. We are recent graduates and bought our first house on a small terraced street in south Manchester last year. We love cooking and are completely inspired by the BBC1 series MasterChef. Reflecting on our life together, I feel I can confidently assure you that Oli and I have never, and will never, live in extreme poverty in the course of our lives.

From 22 – 26 April, however, we have chosen to take the Live Below the Line challenge. For five days we will experience, in part, the challenges faced by the 1.4 billion people in the world who live in extreme poverty. We will spend only £1 a day each for our food and drink. This is as close as we reasonably believe we can get, to stepping into the shoes of our fellow human beings across the world that live on less than $1.25 per day, which is what the World Bank defines as extreme poverty.

Why would we choose to disrupt our fairly ordinary, privileged lives in this way? Because extreme poverty is unnecessary, unjust and unfair. Globally we produce enough food to feed everyone in the world one and a half times over. Yet over one billion people will go to bed hungry this evening! Oli and I aren't naive enough to believe that adding two more hungry people to that number will change the world. But we believe that the conversations we have and the money that we raise along the way will make a difference.

The good news is that globally we are making great progress in lifting people out of poverty. We are seeing fewer kids dying, more people who can read and write, people living longer, and falling numbers in extreme poverty. In fact, the World Bank has found that the percentage of people living in extreme poverty has dropped from roughly 52 per cent in 1982 to 25 per cent in 2005. Extreme poverty has halved in 33 years. This means that within our lifetime, within our generation, we could experience a world without extreme poverty. What a challenge and a privilege to be a part of this vision.

Let me offer some suggestions of how you can be part of the bold and exciting movement to end extreme poverty within a generation.

  • We invite you to join us in taking the Live Below the Line challenge. To find out more about the challenge and see some recipes to help you on your way, you can visit the Live Below the Line website. You can also follow our progress in living below the line through our blog.
  •  When taking the challenge you can choose from an array of charities to raise money for. We have chosen to donate the money we raise to the Global Poverty Project and their work in spreading the good news of progress made in reducing extreme poverty and encouraging people around the world to join in the movement by making small but effective changes in their lives. To find out more about the Global Poverty Project and to book to host their ground-breaking 1.4 Billion Reasons presentation visit their website.
  • We also invite you to write to your MP. Politicians are elected to represent and to serve us. If you are passionate about the issue of global poverty, you could write to your local MP and others of influence who can make a difference to help ensure that global poverty stays on the agenda and the government are doing their part.

We don't anticipate that living below the line will be tasty, that there will be much/any variety in our diet or that it will be healthy. But every time somebody says they will join us, sponsor us, write about the challenge, every time someone says they are happily surprised to hear that progress has been and can be made in reducing extreme poverty, we will be inspired and encouraged, to push on, hush our grumbling stomachs and spread the word.

So we're nervous… but there’s no backing out now that you all know about it!

Written by Ruth Kyle.