Cassandra Chapman, ChildFund’s Supporter Development Manager, reflects on her experience spending just $2.25 a day on food and where to go next from here.
As you know, I finished my Live Below the (Poverty) Line last weekend. It was a tough 5 days but I made it through. Saturday morning I went out and celebrated with some friends – it was nice to be eating flavourful food again (although my stomach did rebel a little against the richness).Cassandra, ChildFund's Supporter Development Manager
It has taken me this long to write about completing the event because, although I started eating normally again more than a week ago, it doesn’t feel “over”. I’m talking about the thinking side of the challenge. While the physical side of the challenge was hard – I had a headache non-stop for 5 days, felt light-headed and grumpy for the first 3, and never quite felt satisfied or energised (all of which made me realise how physically difficult life must be for those who never quite have enough good food in their stomaches) – it’s the thinking side of the challenge that I’ve found most valuable.
First, let’s be clear, I still have zero clue what it feels like to live below the poverty line. Sure, I restricted my diet for a few days, but it was always a choice. I had a warm and comfortable house, safe drinking water, hot showers, a range of entertainments at my fingertips, access to transportation, clean clothes and, above all else, I knew that at any moment if I chose to give up the challenge I could have anything I wanted (more or less). People living in poverty do not have the luxury of choice (indeed I am sure that most would think me ‘choosing’ not to eat well for a week to be rather foolish and incomprehensible).
But I don’t think it really matters that I still don’t know what it feels like to really be extremely poor. (I hope I never will know that. And I hope none of you ever do either – that none of us will ever be starving and wondering where your next meal will come from with no-one to call upon for help.) I think what matters most is that for 5 days I made a conscious effort to really think about the inequalities in the world, the suffering of billions of people, and my role in it.
Many of you supported my efforts and for that I thank you greatly. Together, we raised $750 to help feed hungry children, and that is a wonderful thing. Thank you for your kindness and generosity!
Now I invite you all (whether you donated or not) to think about what you can do next, what we can do next together, to really address the horrific inequalities that exist in our world today. It simply isn’t fair that some struggle to try to fill their children’s stomaches each day while others (me, for instance) can afford takeaway coffee at $4 a pop and can buy so much fresh food that it sometimes goes off and has to be thrown away before I can eat it.Cass visits families in Vietnam where ChildFund helps children living in poverty
In no way do I want anyone to feel bad about what they have. We have been truly blessed in this life and we should be thankful. I know I am. I just can’t help thinking (especially after my recent experiences) that more can and should be done. Your ideas would be gratefully appreciated – these sorts of problems require large scale responses.
Thank you all once again for your support in this challenge (emotional and financial). Thank you too for being the kind of generous souls who truly care about others. You know I am an idealist but I really believe that we can make a real and positive impact in this world:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.
If you would like to read more about Cass’s experience living below the line, check out her blog posts And so we begin… and Harder than expected. To find out more about how to help children in need, visit ChildFund’s