Diana Chiodo is YCI’s Public Engagement Intern and a Live Below the Line participant. Read her reflections about her first day Living Below the Line.
Food for the day: A banana for breakfast, rice and lentils with cilantro for lunch and dinner. Water and a splash of lemon juice to drink.
It’s day 1 of the Live Below the Line challenge and it’s been an okay start to the day – I managed to burn some of the rice I had cooked, so duly noted to myself to be more vigilant. My boyfriend agreed to take on this challenge with me and has been proactive about spreading the word. I have also received lots of curiosity from family and friends, but conversation typically leads to what I’m going to eat for the day. I understand people are intrigued by the challenge and generally understand the cause, but it often escapes people to grasp that over 1.4 billion people are right now living below the extreme poverty line! My ability to take on this challenge is possible because it is only focused on food and drink. For people living in extreme poverty, they lack the ability to fulfill their basic needs, whether it means eating only one bowl of rice a day or forgoing health care when it’s needed. For them, $1.75 a day doesn’t just cover food, it’s actually meant to cover everything- from housing, health, food, transport, to education. Sadly, this is the reality for a staggering number of people.
However, I’m confident that the Live Below the Line challenge will generate greater awareness among people about this issue. Speaking for myself, while preparing for this challenge, I took a step back from the fact that I could flip through grocery flyers, price match policies and have access to an insane amount of food, which is far from the reality plaguing over 1.4 billion people. Reflecting on this state of disparity is not meant to foster pity, but rather create compassion and empathy leading to action.
So, Why Am I Doing This Challenge in the First Place?
As a student graduating from Ryerson’s Food Security studies program with a background in political science, it aggravates me to realize the inequities we have in society, particularly within our food systems and the amount of waste that is created each day. Since embarking on this challenge, I’ve been reminded of the delayed rain season that plagued East Africa, damaging crops and draining resources. I’ve also been reminded of the women I met in Kenya who lugged barrels of firewood and water on their backs to then walk a few kilometers home. What this all means is that in addition to the state of extreme poverty, living conditions can increase the difficulties in obtaining food. Want to learn more about Food systems and Global Food issues? Check out this interactive Food Issues Map by FairFood International.
Some wise words were once spoken to a comic book superhero, ‘with great power, comes great responsibility’. Speaking of responsibility, my responsibility is to educate others and generate awareness about the magnitude of living in extreme poverty. It’s important to remember that everyone in his or her own way has the ability to affect change. Through this campaign, I have the ability to generate awareness of Youth Challenge International‘s work which addresses the root causes of poverty, meanwhile increasing potential in young people and educating future generations.
Sign up to participate and stay tuned for my second blog!