How Life Below the Line Affects Us All

There are lines everywhere. Lines being drawn, crossed, walked around, and even erased when necessary, or when someone has the power to do so. There is an ugly, unjust line that isn’t serving any of us, and killing many who live below it. This is the poverty line. Today, 1.2 billion people around the world live at or below the poverty level, and they exist on $1.50 per day. This sounds unfathomable, but it’s a real fact and a real crisis. To address the issue, the Global Poverty Project created the Live Below the Line campaign challenging everyone to spend five consecutive days eating and drinking on just $1.50 per day.

The challenge runs from April 29 to May 3rd. Istarted a couple of days early on behalf of UNICEF. Since I’m traveling most of this week, I figured it would be wise to begin the challenge while I’m stationary and more in control of my schedule. So far, so good.

My breakfasts have consisted of oatmeal, bananas and honey. For lunch, I’ve been eating a baked potato a day, and for dinner I’ve been gobbling up  half a cup of rice mixed with vegetables.

Am I hungry? A little. Am low in energy? No. Am I truly living below the line? No. To do that I would need to experience living without a roof over my head, clean running water, sanitized food, and a number of other elements I’ve taken for granted, which would be viewed as luxuries to people surviving in impoverished communities across the globe.

Am I becoming more and more conscious about what my body consumes, and how gluttonous and wasteful I normally am? Oh, yes. There is no need to eat nearly the amount of food that I ingest on a regular basis. The sugar, the large portions, the plastic and paper packaging of food, and the money that goes into it all is JUST. SO. EXCESSIVE.

Someone asked me if I felt that participating in this campaign was life-changing. I don’t know that I would describe the experience as such, but I will say that it is life-affirming and awakening. I have so much to be thankful for, and I don’t count my blessings nearly enough. To have a voice, the ability to write, and the means to pursue all my heart’s aspirations is a gift. More so than that, it’s a miracle. I say this because I entered the world without a family. Fortunate enough to be adopted, I’ve lived a charmed life. There were times that I struggled. There were times I was broke. But there has never been a time that I lived below the line, and that is because of the good will and compassion of others.

So, this just makes me wonder. If thousands of people collectively bestowed their good will and compassion to those in need, could’t more miracles arise?

There are people across the globe, some in the backyards of our very own cities, who have no voice because no one is listening. And if they continue to endure living in poverty their children will grow up in poverty, and their children’s children will be raised in poverty. And these crimes against humanity may lead to those children leading lives of crime, in order to survive. Counter-productivity, the loss of goods and services, and the tragedies that occur because of such extreme aridity are just a few reasons to combat destitution to the best of our ability.

While the Live Below The Line campaign is about engaging our moral fiber to benefit those who cannot help themselves, its potential impact can transcend that monumental summit and shift the human condition. Global poverty affects all of us, and we can all do something to squash it.

Thanks to everyone who has donated so far, we’ve already surpassed my initial  fundraising goal. Thank you and good luck to the thousands of people around the world who are participating in the program starting today. It is an absolute privilege and honor to be in your company. Together, we can erase the poverty line and make miracles happen.





Melissa is a journalist and impact producer focused on promoting STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) to advance humanity.