Expats Below the Line - The £1 Per Day Challenge
Inspired by Charlotte Dando and Shazia Ali's blog on the "Live Below the Line" challenge, the Sierra Leone Faiths Act Fellows have decided to step up to the challenge. We work with people of all types of communities in Sierra Leone, from cities to small villages. As fellows here, we are both interested, and see it as a duty of due diligence, to try to understand Sierra Leone as much as we can. An astonishing 70.2% (2004) of Sierra Leone's population live below poverty line. Of all the impacts poverty has on one's life, these develop a complex that is severely detrimental to the health of oneself and family. While we personally would never be able to comprehend how all these complexities can affect one's life and development, we decided see if we could at least get a glimpse into the life of a Sierra Leonean living below the line.
So, for those who have never been to Sierra Leone, I think you might be interested in the potential cost breakdown for the week of May 7th - May 11th:
Total Available Budget: £1 or 7,000 Leones/Day (35,000Leones/Week)
Expected Costs For Week Per Faiths Act Fellow
Water - 2,250Le (£0.32)
Soap for household cleaning - 375Le (£0.05)
5 lunches - 10,000Le (£1.43)
5 dinners (lots of rice dishes) - 12,725Le (£1.82)
Toothpaste - 400Le (£0.01)
Palm oil soap - 250Le (£0.01)
Laundry detergent 500Le (£0.01)
Toilet paper - 600Le (£0.09)
Shampoo = 225Le or £0.03 per use
Vitamins = 450Le or £0.06 per use
Taxi ride (short) = 1,000Le or £0.14 per use
Of course, we have beneficial assets that a local Sierra Leonean would not be privy to, including: shelter, furniture, clothes, plumbing, garbage disposal, security, cleaning, electronics, phone credit, entertainment stuff, and office provisions (internet, electricity, water, fan). So we try our best to accommodate our benefits as well. We ensure to turn off all our electricity at home and rely purely on our visits to the office to charge our electronics, such is typical Sierra Leonean practice for those who have the access.
As mentioned above, we would never be able to purely understand what it is like to "Live Below the Line" and the lack of capabilities associated with poverty. Given we are expats and benefit from all the granted costs listed above from previous personal expenditure, we have a certain status is society. This can gain us priority access to particular venues (e.g. hospitals, key leaders, service providers) that are definitely not available to a local Sierra Leonean living in poverty. On the other end, public perceptions of this associated status can, and probably will, be detrimental to us trying to live under this budget. For example, we will probably have to pay more in the market for the food mentioned above.
I'm greatly looking forward to this week's insight and experiences. A part of me wonders how being a Muslim who has practiced fasting during Ramadan for many years will render me for this challenge. Stay tuned for next week's blog for the results.