Live Below The Line: Day 1

April 28 is forever going to go down in history as the day I embarked on the Live Below The Line challenge for UNICEF UK. It is a unique challenge because you have to manage a budget of £1 per day for all your grocery shopping and that is all you get each day for five days for your food.

It might seem simple of an idea because there is so much you can purchase with a pound, but this isn’t the 1920s, where a loaf of bread costs you only 20p and a £1 would get you a hearty meal, three times a day (and perhaps even more!). It’s a lot more difficult to pull it off in practice than it sounds in theory.

I chose to go for two packs of Frankfurters and 250ml pack of Lychee juice for my daily meal. Frankfurters are lean meat sausages, which makes them uber healthy, and so delicious. I have to say I was anticipating feeling a lot more hungry as the day would progress but I even went for a walk and did my grocery shopping, which meant more work than the usual, sit and work away on your laptop during the holidays (or PC over at the library, battling and successfully wining some of my work time, during term time).

Live Below The Line has seen more than 25,000 people come together from across the globe to spread awareness and raise more than £5.5mn for the UNICEF UK project. It is an awareness and fundraising campaign at the end of the day, that is changing the course of the battle against poverty. More than 1.2bn people are living in extreme poverty and this campaign aims to highlight the plight of those people.

1.2bn is a huge figure – its 20 times the population of the United Kingdom. All I read was that UNICEF UK are doing an awareness campaign, in association with The Global Poverty Project, to raise awareness about how extreme poverty impacts the lives of people around the world, and are you in or not? And I was just like “Yeah, I am!”!

Participants have to choose to fundraise for one of the 35 charity partners for the programme, and I have chosen to not fundraise because I am involved in the spreading awareness department for the campaign. I have chosen four charities for that, that are very dear to me:

  • UNICEF UK
  • The Global Poverty Project
  • Oxfam
  • Christian Aid

I will be blogging more about their work and the challenge as the week progresses, so look out for those amazingly interesting posts. I got my grocery from the local Giant, it’s one of the biggest you have in the capital. I thought of trekking to Tesco but then decided to leave that for another day – the Tesco is really close too, like a half and hour away from halls!

I have to admit when all these recipes from many of the other participants kept coming in I was awestruck or plain shocked. Awestruck at their ingenuity and love for food, that they would trek miles just to grab a can of baked beans that was the 10p more cheaper to manage the budget and the hours they’re putting into the challenge cooking up one recipe after another, like a storm. I certainly think it’s very commendable. Many people might laugh at your enthusiasm for the passion and dedication, you show for a cause, but they’re just people who so aren’t cool!

I was shocked at some of the food pictures they were sharing and how they managed to cook such large amounts of food with a £1. I know that we’re all working really hard in Westminster and Whitehall to keep prices down to a minimum or give off regular discounts at supermarkets, and I’m pleased to report the trend is going very healthy here, but roast potatoes, gravy and apple-pork as your dinner, with a breakfast of cereals, and a lunch of sandwiches for a £1? It makes me wonder where exactly do they do their grocery shopping, that the items are that ridiculously cheap.

I am having fun on the challenge, yes. I think the best part of the challenge for me is this: blogging about it because it helps to spread awareness! One of the other ways you can help out and contribute to this effort is by donating money or raising funds yourself. I’ve just never been one of those people who excel at fundraising even though I have helped a couple of my peers to fundraise already.

I did volunteer for many of those events and it’s hard work those things. You have to be really confident in what your doing and be a good peoples-person. I can’t even imagine going upto people and asking them to donate to a cause, it’s frightening the idea. My thoughts are more along the lines of,“ if you believe in it, then please contribute, I am not going to be your conscience and chase you up now because it’s something you should know already by now is the right thing to do”.

Me and fundraising – they don’t go very well do they ? No, I’m more of a “spreading awareness” person. I have fabulous people skills, they just can only be channelled through “an independent, solely inspiring and intelligent” prism. I believe in people. I believe they deserve more credit than they’re often given, when it comes to their intelligence and their capabilities, and their ability to innovate. So, blogging is the best way for me to tap into that huge crowd of people you see that are so interested in thoughtful and intellectual happening around my town.

Kuala Lumpur is such a fabulous place for this challenge because the weather is really pleasant now (sure it gets hot during noon, I mean it is noon, after all) and I think the timing of it is just perfect. It came right after my exams and during the holidays, so it means that I can utilise the time to detox. The food is certainly helping a lot with that.

There are about 10 Frankfurters in each of the packs – I normally have a little bit more than that during the day, but this is a challenge after all and it’s meant to be more difficult not the same as your experiences everyday. On that note, I would like to set sail Day 1 off the challenge, and also wish the participants of UNICEF UK’s Soccer Aid 2014 coming up early in June a “Best of Luck!” – keep up the great work in training for it, I know how hard it is to participate and complete these challenges! Onto Day 2…getting a bit hungry…maybe it has something to do with the morning looking so pretty?

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