Living on $2 a day

Hi. I’m Mimi and I’ll be guest-posting today. Larry is tied-up — possibly in the basement with some screen-used rope from a 1970’s space movie — and won’t be able to tell you about this so you’re going to have to bear with me…

A colleague of mine, Nelson Cheng, participated in “Below the Line” last week. If you haven’t heard about this campaign from Hugh Jackman’s media blitz on CNN and The Today Show and all:

…or haven’t seen it on Facebook and Twitter, it’s a campaign to help raise money and awareness for the 1.4 billion people who live in absolute poverty around the world. Last week, Nelson lived for five days on ten Australian dollars.

Two dollars. A day.

For five days, all Nelson got for his ten dollars was a bag of rice, a can of corn, a can of tomatoes, and a single apple. OK, that’s not a lot and this guy works as a web developer! He’s used to going out for lunch daily, getting a strong coffee at ten am and again at two, and raiding the fridge at the office which is always stocked with food, booze and sweets. He also lives nine and a half km from work and given the seven dollar price for a daily transit ticket, he was going to have to rely on his trusty sneakers to get him around. It took him two hours each way and we’re in the middle of a launch so he couldn’t sneak into work a bit late or leave a bit early.

Now, if you’ve ever been to Australia, of course you know about “pies:” little, round pieces of heaven. Inside there might be beef and cheese, chicken and mushroom, eggs and cheese, or other scrumptious items. They can also have these irresistible sausage rolls. When I was visiting, I would sneak out of the hotel at midnight for a snack because the vendors are open twenty-four hours. Nelson had to walk past these shops hundreds of times over the five days AND had to refuse them on Friday when the office brought them in for breakfast.

Nelson made it through all five days without cheating. I would like to think I’d be able to do something like this but frankly, don’t think I would have that kind of will power. Congratulations to Nelson! If you’re interested in finding out more, visit Below the Line.

Here are some comments from Nelson about his week Below the Line:

Phew!! Its been one heck of a week! The guys in the office have probably heard me sighing, moaning and complaining all week. Certainly a challenge, though to be fair, not unmanageable.

But here I am, getting towards the end of Day 5. I’ve been living off a mainly rice diet, 3 meals a day, except this morning, when I finally had my apple (it was so GOOD, I even ate the core, leaving nothing but a few seeds and a stalk). I’ve also made the long journey between work and home 9 times, covering a total of over 81km, which for you SFers, is over 50 miles. Just one more walking trek to go.

Probably one of the hardest parts of this whole challenge has been pushing through my work day with lower levels of energy than I’m used to. A couple of days I was pretty tired at work, at lunch time I snuck off for a sneaky 15 minute powernap! Don’t worry, I’ve still been knocking out that code.

You know, I feel like during the long times of walking, I should have been spending that time in quiet reflection, contemplating the nature of global poverty and the difficulty one would have to face Living below the Line…. However, truth be told, I spent a lot of time thinking about FOOD! Walking past those asian bakeries on Victoria street at 7 in the morning, after a few days of eating rice, man, now I can see why people stricken with poverty often turn to crime. I was ready to bust into one of those bakeries like it was a 7-11 in Footscray.

Anyway guys, thank you so all the great support from the whole gang, but through donations and also words of encouragement. All proceeds from Live below the line go towards trying the break the cycle of extreme poverty. Working through the Oaktree Foundation, the funds go into development work in Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Cambodia, to build schools, train teachers and provide access to education to children and young people.

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