Archive for live below the line

Live Below the Line 2014

Posted in life in general with tags , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2014 by Sarita

The Live Below the Line Challenge has caught me by surprise this year – my friend Chad emailed asking if I was doing it over the weekend and I didn’t realise it was starting so soon.

Anyone who knows me on FB has probably realised how big a part of my life food takes up. Unwinding after a job is usually done around a table, socialising with friends, the same. The love of photography and food has made this portion of my life readily accessible to anyone who chooses to see what I post, and I told Chad that this year, a big part of me felt like a hypocrite, because of how food centric I’ve been.

At the end of this week, as usual, I go back to normal life.

For Chad, a big part of it is about being aware and raising not just money, but awareness. I thought about it all weekend, and decided that he was right. For me though, the awareness, or re-awareness, would begin at home. It’s easy to lose sight of things that help keep you grounded sometimes, and this year, this challenge starts with me.

I looked through the organisations that I could donate to this year, and have chosen Possible, a nonprofit healthcare company that delivers high quality, low cost healthcare to the world’s poor –

If you’d like to join us in eating on $10/day, we’d love to have the company – we’ve found that having team members helps with feelings of isolation and anger.

If you’d like to donate to us – even if it’s a dollar (every single one counts!) here’s the link to my page and beneficiary organisation (Possible) 

and here’s the link to Chad‘s page and beneficiary organisation (Heifer Int’l – provides livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income).

Thanks for anything you feel able to give!:)

If you’d like to share your opinions – for or against what we’re doing, this is welcome as well – awareness is impossible without conversation and that’s a big part of why we keep doing this.
We also appreciate your advice on where to shop and what to buy – more people than we realise live on restrictive budgets and have to make these food buying decisions every day. 

Thanks again for taking your time to read what we share and for sharing your views with us.



Day 1 – Salt is Really Necessary.

So as I mentioned in my first post, this year’s challenge took me by surprise – I didn’t know it was this week until my friend told me. I’d already done some shopping, so rather than waste the food I’d already bought, I decided to use what I had and portion it out and tally up the cost to work out to $10TT/day. Because of my ill-preparedness, the dried bag of mixed beans/peas I put to soak took all day, until I was struck by the brilliant idea of putting them in a pot on low heat. I don’t own a pressure cooker. Thought about it, then thought about my track record in the kitchen and decided to be prudent. The beans finally cooked down enough for me to add parboiled rice and a piece of salted fish for flavour. I’m no cook, but it is filling and will stretch for at least 6 more meals. The total cost of the pot of food, rounded up to the higher dollar, is $28, for a total cost per meal of $3.50. I’ve eaten twice today, so I’m well within budget. There’s a banana that’s going soft on my kitchen counter that can’t be more than a dollar fifty and I think I see my name on it…

Peas n Rice with a Hint of Salt Fish


Of Eating ‘Below the Line’ and Learning.

Posted in uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2011 by Sarita

Wow – what a week. Trying to eat what I could afford for TT$10/day has been an eye-opening and humbling experience.

I initially saw the website posted in a photography forum looking for photos of what poverty looked like to you – a friend suggested I join because I have a few photos. So I took a look, and saw that there was a challenge beginning May 16th – 20th where people were to eat no more than what US$1.50, or the equivalent – TT$10.00, could buy. Since I’ve recently become involved in a programme that feeds the homeless, I decided it would be a challenge I would try, approaching it as an exercise in an awareness of how much the money could do – rather than spend it on ‘x’, I would stop and think that I would have to spend it on ‘y’ in order to eat and it would make me more aware that while in the ordinary course of life, that is not a life and death decision for me to make, it would actually be one for many people, who not only make those choices for themselves, but for their children. I hoped it would give me a better understanding of what the people I met and spoke to every day were going through.

I got so much more.

I expected I would feel hungry, but that has been manageable – no worse than if I’m just running on fumes for a couple days – but what I didn’t expect was the feeling of total isolation I would get when faced with situations where people were eating or snacking, or in places selling food/snacks, or even seeing road signs for various eateries and not having the option of partaking in any of it. It’s very demoralising.

I CHOSE to do this for only 5 days and it’s been extremely difficult for me – the lack of options I have to eat, the lethargy and extra effort it’s taking me to be positive, and having to constantly account for money ‘spent’ on food. What do people who have no choice and not only have to budget for food, but also health-care, school, transport, living costs DO? It’s become very clear to me how a cycle of poverty could just continue, beginning with very little to eat, because it affects your ability to function – yes, you will continue to survive, but existing and thriving are very different.

There’s a lot I take for granted – one of the cooks in the feeding programme told me she feeds 100 people her soup for the cost of a manicure. – It cost her $140TT to make a soup that people send messages about how much they loved it back to her about, so it wasn’t even to say it was lacking in ingredients. I started doing this for myself, to make myself think more and appreciate more – I’m not fooling myself into thinking I’m going to eradicate poverty or hunger, but I don’t think trying to appreciate what someone is going through would be doing me or others any harm either.

It’s great to be in the Top 5 for fundraisers globally, but the top 10 thing is purely monetary, and that was never my motivation for doing this – I really just wanted to put myself in the other person’s shoes, if even for a little while. Even if me and my team never made any money, I think we’ve changed our perspective, reached some people and at least made them start to think, or question their own spending, or assumptions, so for me, a monetary reflection isn’t accurate as a success marker, because if we never raised a cent, I think we’ve done what we set out to do, if only for ourselves…

And at the end of the day, it’s about making your own journey to where you’re going in your own way – be it through pulling other people down or trying to raise them up or just trying to see and understand their point of view, and now more than ever, I think it’s a sin that in this super wealthy world we live in, there could be people wanting proper nutrition…