Think you can live on $2 a day? Prove it – and raise funds to fight poverty. Oaktree is challenging Australians to give their daily lunch order the flick and try living off $2 a day, as part of its annual Live Below the Line campaign. Running from May 7-11, the campaign aims to raise money for work that fights poverty by encouraging people to dine on a mere $2 a day or $10 over the working week – the Australian equivalent of the international poverty line.
Live Below the Line was launched in 2010 and, since then, more than 50,000 Australians have become involved and raised $10 million for work that empowers young people to break themselves out of poverty.
This year the campaign is working with a number of ambassadors, including electronic band Art vs Science, Wentworth actress Kate Jenkinson and Sydney Swans player Sam Naismith who will all be spreading the word about Live and Dine Below the Line.
We caught up with Oaktree CEO Sashenka Worsman to find out more about the campaign and how you can help raise awareness and help end proverty.
The Live Below the line initiative is a great to help create awareness of those on the poverty line. A lot of people don’t understand how little some people have. What do you see in your work at Oaktree?
Having travelled to a number of countries and projects working to alleviate poverty and injustice, I am constantly reminded of what a privileged life I lead. It’s often easy to forget that there are millions of young people unable to go to school because they can’t afford to, millions of families who don’t know where their next meal will come from and millions of people deprived of their basic human rights. But every time I visit the programs we work in, I am also reminded of the resilience young people across our region have. I am inspired by the young people I meet, who against all odds are determined to get not just themselves, but their entire community out of poverty – and every day, they get up and do something about it.
How does Oaktree help those not fortunate enough?
Oaktree supports young people across the Asia Pacific region to break out of the cycle of poverty through education and youth empowerment programs. Oaktree provides young vulnerable people with scholarships to attend school, livelihoods training, and teacher training programs. What is unique about Oaktree is that we also raise awareness and equip young people here in Australia with tools to advocate for a more just world. Young people are disproportionately impacted by poverty and injustice, which is why young people are at the center of leading Oaktree’s work.
The Live Below the Line initiative really helps highlight the difficulties that some in the community face every day. What is some of the feedback you’ve had from people that have participated in this initiative?
Until you put yourself in someone else’s shoes, it is very difficult to understand what it is like to live in poverty. While Live Below the Line only gives you a glimpse into what it might look like, it certainly puts the life you lead into perspective. It is not difficult to feel “full” when you eat on less that $2, but it is certainly difficult to feel satisfied, it is difficult to concentrate, it is difficult to stay energized and it is difficult to do day-to-day activities that you might take for granted. Particularly in Australia, where there are so many restaurants and shops surrounding you, you can’t help but crave a little treat – where just the whiff of coffee makes your tummy rumble. The thing is, this is the reality for many people living in poverty every single day – particularly those living in urban poverty.
Many people tell me they had no idea what it felt like to go without. They tell me that they never realized how privileged they are and how lucky they are.
If people can’t commit to the Live Below the Line initiative, how else can they help to raise money and awareness for the cause (and not just for the initiative but throughout the year)?
We also have Dine Below the Line, whereby people are encouraged to register and hold a dinner party where the budget is $2 per guest and encourage friends and family to support.
There are so many ways someone can support in creating a more just world. The obvious one is to financially support an organization whose work you believe in – you will be surprised how much can be done with not much. Oaktree has several opportunities for people to donate throughout the year. I would also engourage people to help spread the message further by sharing videos and stories of the cause – it is also important you take these conversations offline, whether it is over dinner with family and friends or with your colleagues.
If we are to create a more just world, free from poverty, there is always more to be done, find an organization or cause you are passionate about and give your time by volunteering or providing in kind services.
To find out more about the program, sign up for the challenge, download daily meal plans, a recommended shopping list and recipes, visit livebelowtheline.com.au