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 were 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.”