Could you feed yourself with just $2 a day?

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We live in a country blessed with endless opportunities for food and resources. Have we also thought about those who may not be as fortunate? Macquarie University students Therese Canty and Nicholas McNulty along with thousands of Australians lived the hard life for a week to raise awareness of poverty and funds for those in need.

WORDS Benjamin Murray

Thousands of Australians participated in the ‘Live Below the Line’ challenge between 6 and 10 May. The challenge involves living off $10 worth of food for five days. The anti-poverty campaign is supported by both the Global Poverty Project and the Oaktree Foundation, which has, since its creation in 2005, established itself as an annual event in the UK, the USA, New Zealand and Australia.

To complete the challenge, participants are required to live on the equivalent of the extreme poverty line for five days. By living off $2 a day, participants aim to raise both money through personal sponsorship and awareness of the hardships faced by those that live in poverty.

Therese Canty, a Macquarie University science student, has raised $811 by living off bananas, a tin of peaches, pasta, rice, an onion, one carrot and a can of tomatoes for the week. “By far, the most challenging thing was not being able to eat when I felt hungry – it is really something I have always taken for granted,” said Therese.

According to the World Bank, more than a sixth of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty. In 2012, over 7,800 Australians, together with over 50,000 donors, raised more than $1.92 million for education and shelter in places like Papua New Guinea and Cambodia.

Therese has made a significant contribution to making a difference to the world’s most vulnerable. “I wanted to experience first hand what it is like to live in extreme poverty in order to have a better understanding of the issue and also a better ability to empathise with those living in extreme poverty,” she said.

Macquarie University student Nicholas McNulty says that his experience in Live Below the Line raised excellent awareness, “particularly with family and friends who had to watch me eat and manage the food wisely.” He also says, “I think the experience really makes people appreciate the food that is available to us all the time and it broadens our understanding of the extreme conditions that other people are living in.”

Funds raised in the Live Below the Line challenge are used to fight poverty through education initiatives in the developing world and education and advocacy projects in Australia. Don’t miss out the challenge next year, as it is an enlightening experience for all those involved. Therese explains, “I have become a whole lot more grateful for my usual lifestyle; with heaps of food to eat, clean water to drink, a roof over my head and clothes to keep me warm.”