Did you know that half of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day, and have you ever wondered what living on just $2 would be like? This was a challenge that several interns from Opportunity International decided to understand and experience.
So what was the outcome of the experiment? Well, we recently had the opportunity to interview several of these interns about the challenges they faced in undertaking this courageous and inspiring feat. Below is a summary of what they had to say.
The challenge began in Oak Brook, Illinois, headquarters of Opportunity International. According to intern Alex Najduch, the objective of the challenge was to bring a heightened awareness of the issue of global poverty surrounding us today, and they hoped that all the money saved on groceries for the week long challenge, would be donated to charities aimed at alleviating poverty.
So what was a typical day like you ask? Well, breakfast consisted of merely of oatmeal, roughly $0.34 per serving. Lunch was a paltry peanut butter sandwich, $0.29 per serving, and dinner was rice, chicken, and eggs. The greatest challenge was dinner because most participants found the greatest temptations outside of the office when there was no one to hold them accountable and minimal support. Another unexpected challenge was the fatigue that came from eating less throughout the challenge. The fatigue provided perspective on how hard it is for those living on less than $2 a day to maintain their livelihoods.
A few of of the biggest take aways from the experience included a greater understanding to never take for granted the “little things” that we have in life such as freedom for an education, clean sanitation, safe water, health care, and safe homes. Another take away was to never forget the amount of need in the world for those living on less than $2 a day. Lastly, it is so easy for us to only think about the physical results of living on less than $2 a day, but the experiment has opened participants eye’s to the psychological strains of doing so. Many of them found the challenge to be disheartening because those who do live in poverty wake up daily to the reality that there are limited resources and little hope for change.
Due to the positive feedback of the project, Opportunity International plans to expand the challenge annually to include campuses throughout the US. The participants have received lots of encouraging feedback and interest, which only fuels the need to expand the challenge. A spoon of advice that was provided by intern Maddie Tolmie, was to remember throughout the challenge that “it is not about those participating, it is about the 3 billion lives” living on less than $2 a day. The greater the level of empathy we can foster about the poverty, the greater our psyche can be moved to toward action.