My parents did Live Below the Line with us. It was really awesome being able to share the experience with them! Even though we didn't actually see each other much that week, it felt better somehow just knowing that someone else was going through similar things at the same time.
I was talking with them recently about their experience of Living Below the Line and here are some of the thoughts from our conversation over the dinner table that night.
It was eye opening discovering just how much you can do on such a limited budget!
An important consideration was knowing how much you need in a day. What if you get it wrong? How do you work it out? How hard it must be for people living in extreme poverty. We knew we had $11.25 for five days of food. They may often not know when they will next get money and be able to buy food. So hard balancing between today's needs and tomorrow's needs, and particularly when you don't know what tomorrow might hold.
It was worth doing the Challenge for the conversations had with workmates, friends and others about extreme poverty, the questions people asked, the interest shown. Dad wanted to raise more money. (Boyo and I did too but in the end we all did what we had time/energy for and doing something was better than not getting started at all!).
Mum noticed that the food worked really well for her. But she did really miss fruit. She found it has really changed things in her relationship with food - less cravings over all. I, on the other hand, had the opposite experience - I craved and craved and ate and ate (all the wrong things too!). It took over three weeks after doing the Challenge for me to feel like I've returned to 'normal' eating again!
Mum noted that we use food for so many things other than survival. When we are bored. When we feel strongly about things. When we are tired, for a pick-me-up. It's about a lot more than just eating to survive. And this is particularly so in the west where we have such an abundance of accessible food. Sometimes we seem to just eat out of habit, because it is there.
We communicate so much over food. The work lunch that Mum had to sit and watch. The workmates with lollies or cake. The supper at Life Group. Food consumes so much thought. Especially when you know you don't have much food available. The worry over it, particularly, took a lot of energy away from other things.
It is totally understandable now why people resort to doing thinigs like using cow dung for their fires. The 'making do' that we experienced with our food has to be experienced across all areas of life for someone living in poverty. It might be cow dung or nothing, rice foraged from a rat's nest or starving (and yes, that is an honest-to-goodness scenario!).
When asked if they'd do Live Below the Line again, my parents said yes. It was worth it. I have to agree. It is a fabulous way to connect with the issue we are trying to help alleviate.
Through the generosity of our friends and family, Boyo and I raised over $850!!!