This week I spent about an hour planning my Live Below the Line shopping list – working out what groceries I could afford with just $10, and where I should shop to get the best bang for my buck next week.
I was really disappointed that because of the Queensland cyclone, bananas are now well out of my budget range. They were a big source of nutrition and flavour for me last year – and as I searched hopelessly for a cheap, tasty and nutrient rich option to replace them, I was reminded of just how little choice would be available to me if I only had the equivalent of $2 a day to live on.
I started to imagine the kind of impossible choices I would be faced with. I imagined myself as a mother – choosing between feeding my daughter and sending her to school; between collecting clean water for my family and leaving my children alone at home; between sending my child to a doctor and feeding her.
And I was reminded that thousands of mothers are forced to make choices like these every day. Because they’re trapped in the cycle of extreme poverty; working their hardest to get ahead, but stuck in broken systems without access to the basic opportunities they need - and deserve - to build a better future for themselves and their family.
I’m passionate about changing this reality – and am excited to be part of a campaign that is both increasing public awareness and raising funds for anti-poverty initiatives. I hope that the personal challenge that I and thousands of other Australians choose to take next week will help shift the way the Australian public thinks about the issue of extreme poverty - that the conversations we have and the challenges we face will highlight the fact that extreme poverty is about much more than being hungry - that it is about lacking choice and living without safety nets.
I know that we’re already having a huge impact.
The 4,800 Australians already signed up to take part are making headlines around the country, and raising crucial funds for anti-poverty projects. They’re stepping up as leaders of change in their own communities, to tackle this issue.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been particularly touched by the story of a friend of mine, which I think highlights the importance and power of this campaign. Earlier this year, I invited him to join me Below the Line next week. Initially he was hesitant, concerned about maintaining his significant work commitments and his busy lifestyle with only limited access to nutrients. But last month he emailed me to let me know he’d decided to get on board. Since then he’s signed up workmates, had his story covered in his work magazine and local newspaper, and raised over a thousand dollars to support the Global Poverty Project’s work. He, and thousands of other Australians just like him, are making ripples in our communities, planting seeds that will see others join the campaign next year, and inspiring others take action to help fight extreme poverty.
On behalf of the whole Global Poverty Project team here in Australia, I thank everyone who has signed up to take part in the campaign next week. The conversations you have and the funds you raise will have a big impact.
To all our supporters, I encourage you to get behind those who are choosing to Live Below the Line next week, by posting messages of support on our facebook page or website, or making a donation.
The funds we raise for the Global Poverty Project during Live Below the Line will help ensure our neighbours in developing communities have better access to the opportunities they deserve to make a decent wage for their work; to escape the crippling disease of polio; and realise the benefit of their endeavours. You can find out more about what we’ll be able to do thanks to your support in our Country Director’s blog Incredible Opportunities in 2011.
Thankyou to everyone for their incredible support of the Project, and this campaign – you’re helping us grow the global anti-poverty movement and are building the momentum we need to see an end to extreme poverty, within a generation.