Living below the line: Day 5Home » Blog » Lynda Brendish » Living below the line: Day 5
Lynda Brendish reflects on a week of living on $2.25 of food a day to understand living below the extreme poverty line.
I have a confession to make: I'm a horrible person without caffeine.
I have a second confession to make: I caved and had coffee.
But I fit the coffee into my budget! Once I figured out a half teaspoon of the instant coffee in the staff room costs 13c, also the cost of my daily carrot and a tea bag, there was no question which I would choose. It was an easy sacrifice.
What hasn't been easy is the light-headedness, the fatigue, and the general crankiness. (Apologies to anyone who's had the misfortune of being around me this week!) It's really difficult to focus on words on a computer screen, or tasks in general, when you haven't had enough to eat and your head is swimming in a haze. You know that feeling when you have low blood sugar and you start trembling and your words don't come out right and you get really clumsy? Well, that's been happening to me a lot – and I know I can't just go have a quick snack to fix it (and not just because I traded in my carrots for coffee).
Strangely enough, though, we'll have a bit of food left over at the end of this week. Half a bag of silverbeet, a bowl of chickpeas, and almost a full packet of pasta. I even allowed myself extra kiwifruit on my breakfast this morning as a special treat.
Tomorrow, Rebekah and I are planning a day of indulgence. Starting with coffee from Kokako, we'll follow it up with buttermilk pancakes and a kahlua and vodka cocktail (courtesy of a workmate and fellow live-below-the-liner). And here's where my complaining, and whining about lack of coffee, or lack of energy, or the umpteenth serving of daal ends.
Because I do get to stop living below the line tomorrow, and because – even with all the scrimping and measuring of portions – I can't even come close to knowing what it's really like for those who have to live like this every day.
I'm supporting Oxfam (my employer) for Live Below the Line, so I thought I'd share the below video. Reporter Kim Vinnell has been travelling in West Africa, where there's a severe food crisis at the moment. She's been reporting on the situation and visiting Oxfam programmes in the area. I wanted to share this video diary of hers, because in it, Kim – knowing nothing of our Live Below the Line challenge – talks about one of the women she met in Mali, a woman who really does live below the line, every day. It's a really interesting story.
The last thing I want to say before signing off from this challenge is to thank all the people who have supported this challenge in general, and me specifically. I've had friends and family members I haven't spoken to in years, except via Facebook, donate. Every donation that's come in this week has given me a much needed boost of motivation! I've also found so much support from the other Live Below the Line participants, at my workplace and outside, who have shared the commiseration, recipes, budgeting tips and words of encouragement. And thank you to everyone who's read this blog or commented on Facebook – it's been fun sharing this with you!
I'm Living Below The Line to fundraise for Oxfam.
Check out my page at livebelowtheline.com/me/lynbren
Rebekah's page is at livebelowtheline.com/me/rebekahwhite