If you’ve found your way to this blog, you probably already know that the world has the means to end extreme poverty and you’re fired up to do something about it. But maybe to your friends, family, colleagues or schoolmates, extreme poverty is something that happens far away, that they feel powerless to do anything about.
Being passionate about seeing an end to extreme poverty is a deeply personal thing, it can be hard sometimes to get people to care. But a lot of people are up for a challenge...
I’m going to be honest with you - when I signed up to do Live Below the Line in February this year, it wasn’t because I cared all that much about extreme poverty. Instead, my girlfriend talked me into joining her team.
I’m glad she did.
Don’t get me wrong, Live Below the Line was tough. I was tired, grumpy and bored of eating the same bland food. I found myself fantasising about all the things I would like to eat once the challenge was over.
But I realised that while I was finding it tough to live on $2 worth of food and drink for a week, the 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty have to make their $2 cover all their expenses, not just food and drink. And while I could celebrate the end of the five day challenge with some chocolate and soft drink, I realised that those living in extreme poverty don’t get a break, they live like that every day.
Sometimes I think it’s easy for people to write off extreme poverty as something that happens “over there” in some far off place. It can feel like there’s nothing you can do to make a difference.
Live Below the Line changes that. That simple question - "will you take the challenge with me?" - can be the starting point on a journey to passionate advocacy.
Live Below the Line brought home the fact that the 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty are people not that different from me; who have hopes and aspirations, but who struggle to make a better life for themselves because of things like unfair trade, corruption and preventable disease.
It inspired me to read further and to talk to people who knew more about the issue, and I soon found out that I can make a difference.
So I’ve sent Treasurer Wayne Swan an email and tweeted at him to let him know that I want the Government to keep its promise of increasing aid to 0.5% of Gross National Income by 2015.
And I’m looking forward to getting involved in more of the Global Poverty Project’s campaigns as time goes on. Apparently, they’re planning on running some really great campaigns this year, including one calling for greater support to combat Malaria. But the Global Poverty Project needs funds to make that happen - funds raised during Live Below the Line.
“Will you Live Below the Line with me?” - that simple question is powerful. Even if your friends choose not to participate in the challenge with you, they will often offer to sponsor you or end up taking part next year.
And the great thing about Live Below the Line is that it makes it really easy to start up conversations with your friends about the issue of extreme poverty.
Picture this... Your friends ask you around for dinner, but you’re Living Below the Line. You explain to them that you can come, but you will have to bring your own bowl of plain rice.
Naturally, the conversation will evolve from why you are bringing that plate of rice, to why you care about ending extreme poverty.
This May, these conversations will be happening around thousands of dinner tables across Australia, the UK and the US. People will post on Facebook, Tweet and blog about their experiences Living Below the Line. Imagine it, an army of Live Below the Line champions, bringing a glimpse of extreme poverty to people across the developed world.
So the folks at the Global Poverty Project have come up with some great resources for us to use to help get the word out and challenge more people to Live Below the Line. There are videos to share, sample Facebook posts and Tweets, profile pics, banners and more. Find them here.
Through these actions, we will reach out to people who have never before considered that they can make a difference against extreme poverty. Some will donate, sign up to Live Below the Line or become passionate advocates for an issue they’d never given a passing thought to before.
Live Below the Line is building a movement of people from all over the world who are dedicated to seeing the end of extreme poverty within a generation.
So if you’re going to Live Below the Line this May, share this blog with your friends. And if you haven’t signed up yet, click here to register or to find out more.