I have often heard of the term, “hangry,” a slang word for being so hungry that you are filled with Hulk-like rage, but I have never used it or thought too much about it. It was not until last month, when I embarked on a humanitarian challenge to eat and drink only $1.50 worth of food daily for five days, that I realized the true definition of being “hangry.”
I joined over 30,000 people around the world for five days in April to Live Below The Line, a public awareness and fundraising campaign, spearheaded by the Global Poverty Project, an international non-profit that has partnered with more than 21 different charity organizations, to significantly reduce the amount of people experiencing impoverished conditions. The Global Poverty Project estimates that there are 1.2 billion people who are suffering from the effects of extreme poverty.
This year was my second time partaking in the challenge because I believe that my continued participation allows myself a direct experience with the lack of choices forced upon people living below the poverty line. Yes, I remembered the hunger pains from the first time around, but others are not aware that this pain is something many experience year round on a daily basis. So, I felt the need to remind them.
In light of the many wars and civil unrest in so many countries around the world, I decided to direct my efforts to help refugees and people displaced by violence, conflict and persecution by raising awareness and donations for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (The UN Refugee Agency), a global agency that has helped tens of millions of people restart their lives since 1950.
The Ongoing Challenge Was Convincing People to Help
Like the first time around, I began the challenge with heartfelt enthusiasm. I blogged, tweeted and updated my Facebook status with photos and descriptions of every meal. In return, I had several friends applaud my efforts, while a large percentage of people were not as supportive. Many felt that I was putting myself through medically dangerous conditions solely to make the point that people are hungry and dying. These naysayers said “who cares?”
Has the topic of people suffering thousands of miles away become so indifferent to humanity that we have lost the ability to feel empathy? The saying “one person can make a difference” has been proven time and time again, look at Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, 17, who defied the Taliban in Pakistan by fighting for girls education. It all started with a notebook and pencil. I am not saying that limiting my food intake is the same thing, but it’s a start.
We have the capacity to end global poverty, however, lack the ability to conceptualize the deplorable conditions impoverished people face. If we do not take a stand now, when will we? One person can inspire millions. There are ways to aid people living in these conditions with proper funding and awareness, lives could be saved. During those five days I was “hangry,” the slightest annoyance or mention of food, (God forbid anyone who was not participating in the challenge said they were hungry) infuriated me. But what I have come to understand is that the insignificant grumbling pains that I felt is nothing compared to the 1.2 billion who are not only hungry, but who also lack basic resources, such a fresh water, a home, clothing and not to mention access to human rights. And yet, there are those who are unsympathetic to the plight of people living in extreme poverty because they are preoccupied with trivial problems.
Will you rise above the indifference, and work to make a change? So far Live Below The Line participants worldwide have raised $381,339. The challenge will continue until June 30 for those that would like try it or support someone living below the line in their area.