Why We Decided to Take the Challenge
By: Cabrie Kearns & Madeline Vaughan
Think for a moment about how much you spent on your lunch today. Did you splurge on a feast from a local restaurant? Did you have a simple sandwich from the café next door? Did you go for some fast food? Or, were you good, and packed leftovers from last night’s dinner? Chances are your lunch cost you more than $7.50, which is the TOTAL amount that we will attempt to live on for a whole work week! Yes, we are crazy! However, there is a point to this madness, the two of us will be participating in the ‘Live Below the Line‘ challenge for five days, from April 29th to May 3rd, where each day we are allowed to spend no more than $1.50 on food and drink.
You may ask “why would you do that”? Certainly, anyone who knows us knows that being hungry and being grumpy kind of go hand in hand. The truth is, we are both hoping that by the end of this week we’ll have a bit more insight into what many people on this planet have to go through on an almost daily basis – constantly hungry and struggling to find nutrition in the few food options they can afford. There are 1.4 million people in the world that live below the poverty line, and by participating in the ‘Live Below the Line’ campaign we want to try to help create awareness of their plight. With Maddy from Australia and Cabrie from the US, we are undeniably and undeservedly lucky to have been born in our nations and time. However, we feel it is not enough to just be aware of our privilege, but we strongly believe that we should do all we can for those living below the poverty line. For us, we do this by supporting The ISIS Foundation.
Working for The ISIS Foundation, we are privileged to have insight into the workings of poverty that others may not. Through our work in Uganda we have learned of the needs in the community of the Nakaseke district. We have seen premature infants struggle to take their first breath with their underdeveloped lungs and heard stories of babies over one year old who’ve still not received immunisations that could save their lives. Through our work, we also know that in many cases, simple and low cost interventions can help save lives.
I had the amazing opportunity to visit Uganda last year. Meeting the people we partner with at Kiwoko Hospital was an incredible experience. Before walking into the neonatal intensive care unit, I had never seen such tiny babies in my life. There were over 20 premature babies in the ward at the time, and the room was filled with the sound of monitors beeping and the sporadic cries of babies. I looked over and saw one mother, Gail, pouring milk into her tiny infant’s mouth with a cup only slightly bigger than a thimble. The little one would have passed for a doll until you saw her tiny lips slowly moving together to take in the milk.
Sister Christine, the nurse In-Charge of the NICU, told me that Gail was having trouble producing milk on her own, a common occurrence for mothers who are not getting enough nutrition. I was pleased to learn that to try and combat this, ISIS supports a mum’s accommodation programme which includes a nutrition component. Mums are provided accommodation close to the NICU which allows them to provide the hourly feed so needed by their teeny babies. During their stay in the accommodation, the mums get support from the nurses on how to care for their babies, and receive meals to improve their nutrition.
For me, this exemplifies the idea that simple and low cost interventions can help save lives, and this is what The ISIS Foundation is all about. Identifying the needs of the community and finding solutions that will improve their lives. I am participating in ‘Living Below the Line’ for The ISIS Foundation because I want all mums and babies to have the same opportunity at life that so many in the US have. Let’s stop Gail’s little baby, and many like her from being one of the 123 newborns who die every day in Uganda, most of whom before their first week of life.
Working as part of the Communications and Partnerships team at The ISIS Foundation has made me incredibly proud of the great strides we are making to improve outcomes for mothers, babies and infants in rural Uganda. Having a mother who is an amazing midwife in Australia, I know the value and importance of having skilled birth attendants present, especially when babies are born prematurely. It is a huge injustice that in Uganda, 16 women die every single day whilst giving birth, oftentimes from complications that are entirely preventable by simple interventions. More than anything else, this is the reason why I am undertaking this campaign. Because it simply isn’t fair that so many mothers and babies are dying while we can do something about it.
I am ‘living below the line’ on $1.50 for food and drink for a week, but only a week. This will give me the smallest insight into what daily life is like, but from the comfort of Australia with free healthcare, clean running water, and a warm apartment. What it won’t give me is insight in to how hard it would be to go to school or work on a farm or face hours of hard labour with so little food in my stomach.
We will make sure to let you know how the fight against poverty goes for us! Check in on our Facebook, and follow up on Twitter @AdaraGroup, @LBLUS, @LBLUK, trending on #BelowtheLine. If you wish to support us or take the challenge visit our LBL page.