Live Below the Line: Day 3

The sunshine was a welcome distraction today and I was perfectly content with my leftover pizza lunch and few biscuits. In fact, I was more than content and felt absolutely fine and energetic until about 2/3 of the way through my walk home from work when I started feeling shaky and had to slow my pace significantly. Fortunately, Jonathan had just started our spaghetti, courgette, tomato, pork sausage supper as I walked through the door so I didn’t have to wait too long for something to fill my belly.

You’ll recall that our oatmeal breakfast rings in at about £0.25 per person and the pizza is £0.30 per person. Tonight’s supper cost surprisingly little. We split the spaghetti meal by four, 1 serving per person for tonight and 1 serving per person for lunch tomorrow, which brings the cost per person per meal to only £0.20. Add to that the cost of tea and biscuits and my food for the day comes in at £0.82. Jonathan ate fewer biscuits and totalled £0.80 for food for the day. I agree with Jonathan who says that being able to afford biscuits feels like cheating. This leads me to wonder if, when people talk about extreme poverty, they’re supportive of helping those living in extreme poverty to gain access to basic needs, but are less enthused when those people move beyond the basics and are able to exercise choice, freedom, and even frivolousness in their day to day lives. Personally, I would love to live in a world where everyone, not only the richest, has the ability to choose what they eat, wear, where they will live, etc.. I think ending extreme poverty is about more than just ensuring the basic survival of 1.4 billion people, but about helping those people to lift themselves out of extreme poverty so that they can experience the same spectrum of choice that I enjoy every single day.

I mentioned yesterday that I’m busy enough throughout the work day that I don’t really feel as though I’m significantly lacking food. But on the way home today, especially once I started to feel less than fantastic, I longed to pop into Starbucks for a cool, creamy drink or to grab some strawberries as I walked past the grocery store. I was salivating at the thought of fresh fruits like mangos and plums. Our diet is definitely carb heavy. Spaghetti, noodles, oatmeal, dough, cous cous. There’s a lot of brown in our diet and not much colour. Fresh fruit and vegetables are a luxury we can no longer afford.

After dinner I was quite desperate for a second serving of spaghetti or another handful of biscuits or some chocolate. Desperate in a way I haven’t been in the previous two days. Desperate in a two-year-old-throwing-themselves-on-the-ground sort of way. I’ve had to remind myself that I can’t just run to the grocery store to get those one or two items I crave. But I’m also grateful that, under normal circumstances, I can afford to buy plums, strawberries, mangos, and so much more. Today I became increasingly aware of how easy it is to get something to satiate my thirst, hunger, or simple craving at any time. As I go to bed tonight thinking about all the goodies I’ll indulge in over the weekend I am struck by a sense of gratitude and a realisation of the privileges I enjoy. 1.4 Billion people in the world are far removed from the simple pleasures of fresh strawberries and a completely indulgent and unnecessary biscuit now and then, which is precisely why, as part of the Live Below the Line challenge, I am raising money for the Global Poverty Project. Please consider donating via my participant page and be part of the movement to help end extreme poverty.