Entries in Oaktree (2)


Lessons from living on $2 a day

This was my seventh year doing Live Below the Line – a fundraising and awareness initiative run by Oaktree Foundation to help end extreme poverty.  You live on (food and drink) $2 a day for a week … the equivalent of the poverty line in developing countries.  Though that includes transport, accommodation … everything ... for those people. 

The challenge never gets easier, but each time I am reminded of important lessons, which is one of the key parts of doing it.  

The first and most obvious is that we have so much more than some people, and you really don’t need as much food as you think you do.  I come from a family who would pile dinner plates high with delicious food and we’d happily devour every last piece of whatever was served  … then maybe a little bit of dessert afterwards.  When you’re faced with a half filled bowl of bad bland pasta, it’s amazing how you can still fill up – and not be wanting more.  Note to self; stop over indulging.  (Have I done this since?  Sort of. I’ve certainly tried.)  

The week of LBL was also a reminder about how much free food we get at work.  Cake for birthdays.  Cheese Platters on Fridays.   With wine.  Catering from clients.  Home made treats from the people who like baking.  There’s always something tasty and free up for offer.  A few people suggested I could just eat the food because I didn’t have to pay for it, but I reminded them that there’s no free food in Cambodia or PNG, so unfortunately I’d need to wait a week to enjoy their to-die-for brownies.

My job is quite social, so I probably took it for granted that so many clients want to meet over a coffee.  In the five days of Live Below the Line I was invited to four coffee meetings.  And a breakfast.  In previous years I’ve met people in cafés and just drank water but sometimes it makes them feel awkward so this year I moved the meetings to another week – or told them what I was doing and we made it an office catch up.  Now I’m back and my barista is loving me again. 

Catching up with friends over dinner is a huge part of my life too.  We love going to our favourite restaurants, enjoying a wine or seven, and swapping stories on what’s happening in our lives.  My gorgeous friend Dani was a trooper, hanging out with me one night when we went to a movie preview, turning down the complimentary wine, popcorn and choc tops to drink water with me.  My stomach grumbled a little, and I went home straight after the movie to ‘enjoy’ a bowl of bland pasta, but she never once complained.  Our catch ups usually involve cool new restaurants or piles of funky gourmet pizza.  I’m sure we’ll get back there soon. 

The one thing that wasn’t a surprise – but continues to humble me – was the generosity of my friends, family and workmates.  So many of them donated to my fundraising page – some quite large donations, along with a whole lot of people who are suffering tough times but still dug deep to help me with my fundraising goals.  I was hoping to raise $1,200 but, with the generosity of so many people, hit $2,542.08.  My first year of Live Below the Line saw me raise $400.  A stack of amazing people in my life donated to the cause – and also sent me beautiful words of love and support.  I have some fantastic people in my life.  But I already knew that. 

The thing I didn’t know was that you can lose 3kgs by stuffing your face with white home brand wheat filled pasta and bread three times a day.  So carbs are actually good for you?  I knew it. 


A hot new diet 

Tomorrow I start an amazing new diet.  Actually let’s not call it a diet – let’s call it an eating plan.  Everyone knows diets don’t work, you need to make lifestyle changes, dahling!

It’s called the $2 a day diet.  Basically, as the name says, you just live on $2 a day for food and drink, and after five days, you lose 3kg!  Amazing!  

Obviously on $2 a day there’s no alcohol, so it’s an instant detox for your liver as well.  You can’t drink coffee – or afford cheese or yoghurt – so it’s dairy free.  Also meat and eggs are too expensive so it’s good for vegans.  If you’re anaphylactic this is also the diet for you, as there’s no way $2 is stretching to nuts. 

There are lot of carbs and no protein, but that’s okay because you burn up all your energy by explaining to people what you’re doing and why.   Before you know it, the week is over and you’ve shed 3kgs … and you even have a flat stomach like those poor people in third world countries who don’t have enough to eat.

Best diet plan ever.

Best marketing campaign ever.   Be skinny and save cash.    Win.  Win.

Here’s the thing.  I am actually living on $2 a day this week, but it’s not to lose weight (though that’s a nice byproduct).  I’m doing it to raise funds and awareness for people living in extreme poverty.

It’s called Live Below the Line – and is based on the concept that the poverty line in third world and developing countries is just $2 a day.  For everything.  Food, water (often not clean), transport and shelter.  The challenge I’m taking covers $2 for food and drink, which in itself is hard.  I can still drive myself to work, but when I get there, there’s no snacking from the vending machine. 

I did my ‘big’ shop today, buying five days worth of food for $10. I had no idea I was such a bargain hunter.  I usually just buy the brands I want, not even checking the price.  Not today. 

I headed to Aldi (the only time I ever go and wonder why) where I secured home brand bread (as thin as a piece of paper), white pasta (my gluten sensitive stomach will love that), a tin of tomatoes and a bag of tomatoes.   A little fossicking at the chaotic Chinese grocer down the street uncovered two skinny sweet potatoes, four mushrooms, a tiny piece of pumpkin (this may become soup) and a bag of carrots (snacks). 

That’s it.  Ten days.  15 meals.   Done.  

There’ll be no lazy egg and latte breakfast for me.  It’ll be thinly slice tomato on thinly sliced bread.  Lunch won’t be a fresh salad filled with kale and fancy stuff.  It will be bland, flavourless tomato based pasta.  Oh and guess what?  Dinner will be the same.  No uber cool restaurant visits for me this week.  Don’t expect my Instagram account to be filled with my usual food porn.  Look out for the same bowl of pasta posted eight times.  Count em.  Eight. 

Feel sorry for me?  Don’t.  It’s only a week and I’ll be fine.  It’s not a lot of fun, but when you remember that there are over 1 billion people living in extreme poverty – who barely eat that much every day – you realise that whinging about tasteless food makes you sound a little bit pathetic.  

Besides, I’m going to lose 3kgs.   Jealous much?


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