What is it like to live on £1 per day?
Representatives from seven religions came together at the National Bahá’í Centre on 1 March to share a lunch, costing just 70p per person, in support of the charity challenge “Live Below the Line”.
Nearly one and a half billion people live on this budget every day, not only for food but for all their daily needs.
During the lunch guests from the Bahá’í, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh faiths discussed their perspectives on faith, food, poverty and malaria.
A video of the lunch can be seen here.
Unity in compassion
A striking unity of thought was achieved at the lunch, as those gathered expressed compassion, commitment to working together for the betterment of the world, and a desire to help fellow neighbours at local and global levels.
“When we show compassion to those living in extreme poverty and those suffering from malaria we are showing love towards God,” said Ravjeet Singh, Director of United Sikhs.
Kiran Bali from the Hindu community commented, “Simple sacrifices, such as the responsible and ethical consumption of food and resources will show solidarity to those living in extreme poverty”.
“For Bahá’ís, the concept of a shared spiritual identity empowers us as individuals to serve others with a sense of purpose and oneness,” said Bahá’í community representative Annabel Knight.
“Interfaith action against global poverty reinforces the dignity of every human being and lends moral and spiritual weight to the struggle to bring justice for those who suffer. In the words of Bahá’u’lláh,’Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other…’”
Live Below the Line
Live Below the Line is a campaign to fight extreme poverty and raise funds and awareness for charities including Malaria No More UK. It is challenging the British public to generate sponsorship by living from 7 to 11 May 2012 on just £1 a day for all food and drink.
“I think the Live Below the Line campaign is so important because of its experiential dimensions,” said Annabel Knight.
“Hearing or reading about people in different parts of the world surviving on limited funds is not as challenging as actually trying to make ends meet on £1 a day for 5 days. It is a sobering and very real reminder of what large sections of the world live through every day. Quite apart from awakening more empathy, Live below the Line is also a great opportunity to share a meaningful project in our local communities and learn how to take action with others.”
Faiths Act Fellows cook and host
Participants enjoyed special vegetarian couscous with spinach and spicy mixed beans served with sour cream and cucumber sauces, followed by iced buns and tea.
Event organisers Usman Nawaz, a 22 year old Muslim from Rochdale, and Charlotte Dando, a 27 year old Quaker from London, cooked the lunch
They are two of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s 34 Faiths Act Fellows, leading multifaith action in the UK, USA, Canada, India and Sierra Leone.
They are working at Malaria No More UK as part of a year-long Fellowship to help unite people of different faiths in projects that tackle global issues such as malaria.
“We were lent a beautiful silver cloche for our lunch by the Ritz Hotel,” said Charlotte.
“Placing the grand cloche over the humble plate of food was a stark reminder that most of us take pleasures such as food for granted here in the UK. By taking part in the Live Below the Line challenge we can help to alleviate the suffering of those living on £1 a day for everything, every day.”
Charlotte and Usman Lived Below the Line just a few weeks ago as they prepared to persuade faith communities around the country to take up the official challenge in May and raise funds for Malaria No More UK.
Money raised will help save lives and stop suffering and deaths from malaria in Africa, where malaria is a lead cause of poverty, costing the African economy £8 billion a year.