Yesterday afternoon, in the midst of wishing I could run out and grab a coffee I got an email from Luci, a woman living on the disability pension.

Luci feeds her whole family for $100-$150 each week. All 7 of them. That’s $14-$21 per person, per week.

Sure, shared food costs may help – the cost of food for a family of 4, for example, is less per person than for a single person living alone. But $150 to feed 7 people is nothing in Australia, especially with the increase in cost of living.

As is true of so many things, Luci and her family pull it together each week through their own ingenuity. They’re not starving, although she admits that things are getting harder as food gets more expensive.

“I do think we eat quite well though. We eat sprouts and eggs from our chickens, we grow pots of herbs for herbal tea, a leg of lamb (8.99/kg) can stretch to make 21 individual meals…”

My hokey little ‘taste of poverty’ challenge is not something Luci, or her family can afford to try. However, she wasn’t critical of it, even though I am coming from the privileged position of being able to ‘play’ at being poor for a week.

“I really like this challenge however and I hope it does increase awareness of poverty in Australia. We tend to think it is overseas, not in our backyard.”

These kinds of situations are exactly what I’m trying to raise awareness of. 11.1% of us live below the poverty line. 2.2 million Australians go without the basics we consider essential to live, not even a comfortable, but a not-hideously-uncomfortable life.

With this in mind, I invite you to donate to OzHarvest today. If you do, please comment below or email me at so that I can keep track of the $35 Challenge tally.

It’s not too late to support The $35 Challenge. During Anti-Poverty Week, from October 16-22, participantshave $5 a day to spend on food. By experiencing poverty for just 7 days, we come to a better understanding of the realities and stresses of those living in poverty. By blogging or tweeting this experience, we can raise awareness of an issue so often swept under the rug. And by donating the remainder of the money we would usually spend on food to OzHarvest, we can make a real difference.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Tagged with:

6 Responses to Day 3 – Perspective

  1. Gaby says:

    I really applaud what you’re doing with the challenge but can’t help to think: wouldn’t it be a better idea to have less (or zero) kids if you can’t afford to feed them?
    Gaby recently posted…Review: Blue Fish Cafe

    • Lau says:

      To me, that’s debatable.

      Sure, we could all stand to make more sustainable choices, but at the same time, you can make a choice (like having kids, buying a house, deciding to go on a massive holiday, going out for an expensive meal) while you have the means to do so and then suddenly, the rug can be pulled out from under you.

      You can’t un-have your kids. It may not be financially viable to sell your house tomorrow. That holiday may be booked and paid for.

      So sure, personal responsibility is important, but the point for me is that we are systematically overlooking 2.2 million people in this country who need help. And whatever choices they have made, they deserve our support just like anyone. The fact that they have had the rug pulled out from under them is hardly their fault.

  2. Gaby says:

    I understand your way of thinking and certainly don’t want to start a pointless discussion but from my (Buddhist) point of view, the only person responsible for whatever happens to anyone is oneself. Remember that I come from a country where a much higher percentage of people is extremely poor; history has taught us that giving them free food, electricity, etc., only makes them more dependent and lazy, and less concerned about controlling their reproductive rate. Please don’t hate me, I still think your motivation is right and you’re super brave for stepping out of your comfort zone.
    Gaby recently posted…Review: Blue Fish Cafe

    • Lau says:

      I don’t hate you! I know you and I come from completely different backgrounds and have completely different perspectives. And I 100% welcome debate.

      I know that in Peru distribution of wealth is way more skewed in favour of the wealthy than we can ever understand here in Australia. So to me, it’s not surprising that Peru, or Brazil, or even Argentina (where the above photo is from) have such high rates of poverty. Awful, but not surprising. These are also catholic countries, so the birthrate is a whole other issue. But I digress.

      I come from a background that strongly values social justice and community. I find it incredible that in a nation with so few living in absolute poverty, any of us live in relative poverty at all. I don’t feel like it is just up to those in poverty to remedy their situation – we need systematic change.

      And I guess I fundamentally disagree with the buddhist idea you hold to be true – I don’t see how one person can be wholly responsible for his or herself, not in the sense that we should blame the victim, not in the sense that the community is not even partially responsible.

      I think the point is that people like Luci can survive through all this, even, dare I say it, thrive. And you and I can disagree on philosophy, and still agree that experiencing poverty, even for a little while, can teach us a lesson.

  3. Gaby says:

    So true. Good luck in the rest of the challenge!
    Gaby recently posted…Review: Blue Fish Cafe

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.