The day started off solid with 2 hardboiled eggs, but it wasn’t long until I was reminded of the things I will miss the most over the course of the week. I was up early for a work event at the library and met a fellow library friend for a coffee and a chat before taking our seats. Well, she got a coffee and I eyed her caffeinated beverage and sipped my tap water while we chatted. Once in the warm, dimly lit auditorium my desire for caffeine became acute as I struggled to keep my eyelids open. By the lunch break I was ravenous and had to settle for my green banana while my colleagues and friends sauntered out to the lobby for a catered lunch. A catered lunch that included brownies. Normally, I would have sipped and snacked my way through the presentations to keep my energy levels up. But when you live below the poverty line this is not an option. I can’t imagine how I would have coped if I had to put in a full day’s work, especially labour intensive work, with such little food in my tummy.
At the event several speakers shared the latest books being published and I was struck by the fact that while we were discussing the latest trends and the best ways to get kids reading over the summer there are millions of people around the world who lack basic literacy skills. In fact, the UN estimates that “globally, 123 million youth aged 15 to 24 lack basic reading and writing skills around the world; 61% of them are young women” (MDG Fact Sheet). I may be skipping my coveted caffeinated beverages for a few days before hopping right back on that caffeine train, but even without the caffeine I still have access to a solid education. I can still snuggle up with a good book and develop new skills to enhance my job prospects. This is a right that not everyone in the world enjoys. This is a right that World Literacy Canada is working to provide as it fills the literacy gap.
My stomach rumbled, my head hurt, and I struggled to focus on my commute home. Normally, I would have been prepared with a delicious snack in my bag to tide me over until lunch, but there was certainly no room in the budget this week. At home I eyed the fruit and nut mix on the counter, but restrained myself and began cutting up my sweet potato for what turned out to be a very late lunch.
I also had to prepare supper and the next day’s lunch for Jonathan and myself. Living below the line means that we can’t just grab something for lunch if we don’t prepare food in advance. There is a lot of planning involved. Supper included black beans, which required a minimum of 8 hours soaking and at least 1 hour cooking time. If I had forgotten or simply didn’t feel like soaking the beans both Jonathan and myself would have gone without supper and lunch. Of course, I didn’t forget, but I was reminded of the limitations experienced by those living in extreme poverty. For most people around the world living on the equivalent of $1.75 per day in Canada leaves enough money for just 2 portions of rice and vegetables per day. There is no money for meat and certainly no money for the extras that I enjoy every day.
And so I challenge you to donate the cost of your daily coffee or chocolate bar or other daily ‘treats’ to my Live Below the Line fundraising campaign. Your donation will go to World Literacy Canada and help to provide the literacy tools that women who live below the poverty line need in order to become leaders in their communities.