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Student Life

Students raise awareness by living below poverty line

Ten University of South Florida students are breaking away from the norm and are surviving on $1.50 a day for five days.

They are doing this to raise awareness and money for extreme poverty through the Live Below the Line campaign. This campaign urges people to live beneath the globally recognized extreme poverty line determined in 2005 by the World Bank. Its goal is to help people have a better understanding of what 1.4 billion people around the world experience every day.

For Americans, living off of $1.50 a day, or $7.50 a week, is unusual.  The average American spends about $37.56 a week on food, according to the Economic Research Service at the United State Department of Agriculture. For people living in extreme poverty, this amount is unheard of.

“It would be impossible for me to live off of $1.50 a day,” senior Arturo Fernandez  said.

Ten students at USF are taking what seems to be impossible and showing that it’s possible.

“I love the idea of actively fighting global poverty by getting a glimpse of what it’s like,” senior Robyn Sagal said.

Senior Stephanie Martell used her weekly allowance to buy a loaf of bread, six bananas, 12 eggs, one-half of a jar of peanut butter, one can of green beans, a box of pasta and butter. The most challenging aspect was being hungry.

“I also struggled without coffee or any caffeine intake,” Martell said.

Sagal and Martell hope to raise awareness about the issue and encourage others to actively make a difference in what they believe in.

This challenge is also unique because it’s difficult to complete alone. It’s designed as a group effort.

“Unlike running a marathon, Live Below the Line encourages a community to take the challenge. This replicates what communities living in extreme poverty go through and produces a strong discussion on what it means to live in these conditions,” said Justine Lucas, Live Below the Line’s campaign manager.

The participants are not only living below the poverty line but are also raising money for a foundation of their choice. They can choose between seven foundations to donate their money to: The Global Poverty Project, Malaria No More, UNICEF, Shot Life, CARE, Global Syndicate, and Rainforest Foundation US.

Sagal raised $592 for UNICEF and Martell raised $250 for Rainforest Foundation US.


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