Sheree Stomberg, Global Head of Citi Shared Services, Shares Why She will Live Below the Line

April 30, 2015

Hunger Project Board Member and Global Head of Shared Services at Citi Bank, Sheree Stomberg, takes on The Live Below the Line Challenge in support of The Hunger Project.

“Will I be able to eat enough to mentally perform at my work, a work that relies on my intellect?  Will I be able to fall asleep if I am hungry?  Will I be warm enough living on reduced calories?  These were the questions that we01_01_00-Stomberg.preview (1)re on my mind on the evening of Sunday, April 26th, the day I joined the global Live Below the Line movement and started my 5 days of living on just $1.50 per day. I thought about my daily routine.  Normally, I exercise vigorously nearly every day, but that is the first thing to be jettisoned.  Who, living on a $1.50 per day, would  burn calories on non-essential tasks?  Tea?  At 30 cents a bag?  Forget it.  I am far better off with a small banana or apple.

Three days into it,I am mentally performing at work, but with reduced energy.  I fade around 8 p.m.  But despite that, last night I could not fall asleep for a while, and could not generate enough heat to stay warm even with covers on.  I put on another pair of pajamas over my first ones.  I rely on food cooked by a group.  Pooling resources and buying in bulk allow everyone to be better off.  The first 2 days of meals are far too spicy for me and my mouth burns.  But that is irrelevant and I eat the food gratefully anyway.

Why do this?  This is a small window into the daily and unending experience of the 1.2 billion people who live in a $1.50 a day.  Unlike them, my children are living in abundance during my 5 day journey.  And I suffer no hardship around health, shelter and transportation.   I turn on the tap and get fresh, safe water.  Yet this small gesture of living below the line for a few days provides a connection and small experiential insight into how the lack of food can dominate one’s mental landscape, limit freedom, and dictate a different course to daily actions.  Although I have been dedicated to ending hunger for 10 years, I had never been hungry until now.  I am grateful for this experience.”