Why did I live below the line?

“Every 3 seconds, a child dies completely unnecessarily as a result of extreme poverty …The thing is, all these deaths are avoidable..” if we take proper steps to raise awareness and act to end poverty.

During the Vietnam war, my grandparents and parents grew up in poverty. As I was told, life was extremely tough. Mum used to help her parents sell “banh beo” (a traditional Vietnamese dish) on the street. Dad sold knick-knacks and did a number of odd jobs hear and there throughout his childhood to help support his family. Both of my parents went to school but did not have an opportunity to attend college. When they met and got married, my parents decided to work hard to send my siblings and I to school to get an education, and hopefully, we would have a better future. I would not be the person I am today if it wasn’t because of them. To my parents, education is the key to overcome poverty.

On 6-10 May, 2013, together with thousands of other Australians, I took on a challenge of feeding on $2/day, for 5 days, to fundraise for The Oaktree Foundation. The funds that we raised helped  renovate schools, train teachers and provide education opportunities for thousands of young people in East Timor, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea. I never thought it would even be possible to eat on $2/day in a developed country like Australia. The fact is, almost half the world – over 3 billion people, live on less than $2;50 a day!

Here is my journal of Live Below the Line (LBL) 2013:
Sunday night before the LBL week: it’s time to go shopping.
My budget of $10 Australian dollars for the week’s grocery: a loaf of white bread, 5 eggs, 3 apples, 2 oranges, and 2 cans of tuna. I didn’t think it was possible to buy all this  food for $10.
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Day 1’s breakfast: simple and full of protein
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Day 2, 3 and 4’s breakfast, lunch & dinner. The budget of $2/day could only stretch so far when it came to hunting for a bargain. I felt hungry throughout the day/night and found it hard to concentrate on work. There were coffee withdrawal symptoms too (as I used to have one coffee per day) ! Dinner = 50 cents = Mi goreng + 1 egg. Imagine the children who have to go to school on an empty stomach because their family cannot afford to buy food. It must be very hard to focus on schoolwork. 
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Day 5: Boiling my last egg in a cup at work (no access to a stove). Today was the last day for Live Below the Line and I felt great, knowing that tomorrow I would be able to eat proper and nutritious food. However, this is not the case for many people who have to battle extreme poverty everyday not knowing when it’s going to end.
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3581_10151878360452802_1756408928_n Having lunch with my friend, Angelica Casado, who was also doing LBL.
At the end of the challenge, I was able to raise over $600 for the Oaktree Foundation. LBL had taught me a number of valuable lessons:
-Anything can taste SO good when you’re hungry
-With some creativity, $2 can go a long way
-Never waste food/water
-Appreciate an abundance of foods/beverages available in Australia
-Look at life from a different perspective and appreciate the little things in life
If you’re looking to make a difference in the lives of those living in extreme poverty, why not join the Live Below the Line challenge this year on 5 – 9 May 2014.
For more information, go to:
“One must be poor to know the luxury of giving.” – George Eliot
Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment.
Love and peace to you.
Binh

I’m currently writing an E-book on how to be yourself and be happy. Please fill out your details in the contact form below and you will be notified when the book is ready!

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