My youngest sister lives by one maxim which helps her to keep her chin up when times are hard. She always says ‘If you’ve got a roof over your head, and an egg in your fridge, you’ll be alright’. It’s not up there with Shakespeare but there’s a truth to be found in it – sometimes happiness can be found in the reassuringly constant presence of simple things.
For the full five days I’ve looked forward to my final dinner living below the line. Not because it signalled the end of self-deprivation but because I knew I could have two eggs instead of one.
I’ve been forced to eat small and very simply, scraping my soup bowl and eating every last grain of rice. I’ve had weird cravings for things like burnt white toast, treacle sponge pudding or wasabi paste. The thought of a two egg dinner has kept me going all week.
And goodness me, didn’t those two eggs taste brilliant. Simple things.
It’s one thing to live on £1 a day when you know you’ve got a constant food source and a spare egg in your fridge. But what if you live on the extreme poverty line where there’s also the threat of food insecurity? Living on so little means living on the cusp of famine. It only takes one thing – lack of rain, poor harvest, war, a change of government – to rock the precarious equilibrium that keeps the one billion living on this line and push them over into starvation.
My body has been able to draw on its own fatty resources the past few days to supplement my lack. If I lived like this all the time I’d have no personal resource, no chubby cheeks or flabby belly, to keep me going. If the tiny food supply I was reliant on was then removed, I would starve. I’ve never been so grateful for my fat bottom.
For the first time I understand how food crises like the one currently in West Africa happen seemingly out of nowhere – they’re the tip of a giant iceberg we choose to ignore most of the time.
So what can we do?
You could donate to UNICEF (via my fundraising page is a good place to start) or another charity tackling global poverty.
If you feel inspired, you could take on the challenge yourself in May.
And at the very least, perhaps we could remember to be grateful every day for our spare eggs, whatever they may be.
“Live Below the Line” for UNICEF by surviving on £1 of food a day for 5 days and help save and transform a child’s life.
Join the Live Below the Line challenge and raise money for UNICEF’s work with children 7th – 11th May www.livebelowtheline.co.uk/unicef
And you can sponsor me too!