Have you seen this logo recently?
It is the 2012 ‘Live Below the Line’ campaign, to encourage people to think about what it really means to live in extreme poverty. Fostermummy, over at My Beautiful Life posted about LBTL recently, and the website is here. Christian Aid, Unicef, The Salvation Army and many other charities are behind this venture. The basic idea is that for just five days from 7th – 11th May, you spend no more than £1 a day on food and drink. This puts you in the same position as someone living ‘below the Extreme Poverty Line’ as defined by the World Bank.
You can then send the remainder of your usual food budget to charity, and get friends to sponsor you for doing it, and generally spend time improving your own awareness [and that of your friends] of just how great is the gap between rich and poor.
The website is full of helpful tips, and a selection of £5 shopping lists, with accompanying menus.
“If we did do ‘Live below the Line’, it would have to be later in that week, as we’ll be at the Baptist Assembly and staying with Liz from May 4th-8th” I said to Bob.
“If WE did it?” he responded!
Oops! Even in a happy relationship like ours, where budgeting is a shared activity and we both regard giving and stewardship as an important part of our marriage, I have no right to presume Bob will agree with me. Ultimately, giving is a personal thing between God and the believer.
I am posting about LBTL now because I am still in discussion [with myself and God] about whether or not to take part.
I have no problems with
- the basic premise behind the scheme
- living on a low food budget for 5 days
- doing it from 9th-13th May instead
- preparing separate meals for Bob if he chooses not to join me
- having a very restricted choice of foods [rice every day]
- all the menus rely on buying ‘basics’ range products
- free range eggs cost more than £1.25 for 15!
- they suggest you drink nothing except water
- I normally eat more fruit and veg than this
Whilst I already buy many ‘basics’ products, do I really want to eat Sodium Triphosphate, Tetrasodium Diphosphate, Disodium Diphosphate, and Sodium Sulphite in my sausages?
Is it right to abandon one principle in support of another? [I believe chickens should be happy and free to roam, so prefer to buy free range eggs]
If I only drink water, I know I shall get caffeine withdrawal headaches. So that would mean weaning myself off tea and coffee well beforehand – and I do not think I could survive the Assembly without a cup of tea now and then!
If I do not eat enough fibre, I know my IBS will flare up.
Now I am fully aware of the fact that this whole exercise is to help me to understand that people in Extreme Poverty do not have any of these choices.
- They have to eat whatever food they can afford.
- Their drink isn’t ‘tea or coffee’ it is usually dirty water
- IBS is nothing compared to the griping pains of real hunger
So I am dithering here.
Perhaps I should put Josephine Tey aside for a while, and dig out this book to read instead? We bought it in 1978 when we were engaged, and were both deeply affected by it.
It might help clarify my thoughts and help me decide whether participating in the LBTL challenge is something I should do.
Are you planning to LBTL in May?
How do you think it will work out in practice for you?