The $2 a Day Challenge

Written by on August 24, 2009 in Featured, Health, World - 13 Comments

The $2 a Day Challenge

Did you know that half of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day, and have you ever wondered what living on just $2 would be like? This was a challenge that several interns from Opportunity International decided to understand and experience.

So what was the outcome of the experiment? Well, we recently had the opportunity to interview several of these interns about the challenges they faced in undertaking this courageous and inspiring feat. Below is a summary of what they had to say.

The challenge began in Oak Brook, Illinois, headquarters of Opportunity International. According to intern Alex Najduch, the objective of the challenge was to bring a heightened awareness of the issue of global poverty surrounding us today, and they hoped that all the money saved on groceries for the week long challenge, would be donated to charities aimed at alleviating poverty.

So what was a typical day like you ask? Well, breakfast consisted of merely of oatmeal, roughly $0.34 per serving. Lunch was a paltry peanut butter sandwich, $0.29 per serving, and dinner was rice, chicken, and eggs. The greatest challenge was dinner because most participants found the greatest temptations outside of the office when there was no one to hold them accountable and minimal support. Another unexpected challenge was the fatigue that came from eating less throughout the challenge. The fatigue provided perspective on how hard it is for those living on less than $2 a day to maintain their livelihoods.

A few of of the biggest take aways from the experience included a greater understanding to never take for granted the “little things” that we have in life such as freedom for an education, clean sanitation, safe water, health care, and safe homes.  Another take away was to never forget the amount of need in the world for those living on less than $2 a day. Lastly, it is so easy for us to only think about the physical results of living on less than $2 a day, but the experiment has opened participants eye’s to the psychological strains of doing so. Many of them found the challenge to be disheartening because those who do live in poverty wake up daily to the reality that there are limited resources and little hope for change.

Due to the positive feedback of the project, Opportunity International plans to expand the challenge annually to include campuses throughout the US. The participants have received lots of encouraging feedback and interest, which only fuels the need to expand the challenge. A spoon of advice that was provided by intern Maddie Tolmie, was to remember throughout the challenge that “it is not about those participating, it is about the 3 billion lives” living on less than $2 a day. The greater the level of empathy we can foster about the poverty, the greater our psyche can be moved to toward action.

An Dao

An is a hardworking professional committed to making a positive change in our world. She has a passion for creating innovative designs and promoting organizations that are working to make a difference.

More Posts

  • http://twitter.com/ghideas Global Health Ideas

    Recently TIME profiled an experiment on eating on $1 a day, might offer additional insights: http://cheapskate.blogs.time.com/2009/08/18/how-to-eat-on-a-dollar-a-day/

  • http://alextcone.tumblr.com/ Alex Cone

    It would also be interesting to try and live on $2 a day outside, because you must factor in rent, electricity, etc… not just food.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.socialearth.org Erik

    @GHI – thanks for the link!

    @alex – good point. there are a lot of other costs that are covered from other sources in this example.

  • Pingback: Kaputei: The Poor Man’s Timbuktu | SocialEarth

  • Andrea

    Certainly “fun” opportunty for young people but it misses many points of the reality:
    1. Your experiment only incl. food. Now try to add travel cost to and back to your office, rent, electricity, water etc etc. This is the reality of 2$ a day, its all included, not just food.
    2. I think the crucial point is that noone in the US needs and can survive on 2$ a day. Its people in developing countries that need to get by on this amount, and here comes the clue: 2$ is Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh etc take you so much further than a mere 2$ in the US. Trying to live on that amount in the US seems to be missing the point of diverse living cost, food expenditure etc.

    If you would have tried to have your interns live on maybe 15$ a day incl. all expenditure it would have given a more realistic opportunity to learn.

  • AJ

    Andrea, while you make a valid point, we did this outside of our work with Opportunity and therefore were expected to keep the same hours and productivity. With the majority of the us commuting from 10+ miles away, we felt it was out of the question to include transportation because we would be unable to go to work.

    Have you tried to live on $2 a day in food? It is actually a difficult task, even with the selection of bulk items and cheap (but disgusting) food like Ramen, we still had trouble budgeting a healthy and nutritious diet. I suggest that you try to live on $2 a day in food for a week. Not having the diet that your are accustomed to does actually create a realistic experience as to ‘what its like to be hungry'; regardless of how far or not far $2 goes in any country.

  • http://2dollardifference.com/ Anne

    Hello!
    
I am interested in encouraging others to also try eating for less and have started a new blog, http://2dollardifference.com, to give support and resources in this awareness raising activity about hunger in the world by experiencing eating for $2 a day.


    Would you be willing to visit my new blog and make a comment about your experiences of eating for less? I would also be happy to put a link to your blog as referencing “experiences of eating for less”.
    

I applaud your efforts to draw attention to issues of hunger and I hope that you will support the cause through this method of mutual support. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
    

All good wishes!!
    Anne

  • http://2dollardifference.com/ Anne

    Hello!
    I am interested in encouraging others to also try eating for less and have started a new blog, http://2dollardifference.com, to give support and resources in this awareness raising activity about hunger in the world by experiencing eating for $2 a day.
    Would you be willing to visit my new blog to make a comment about your experiences of eating for less?
    I applaud your efforts to draw attention to issues of hunger and I hope that you will support the cause through this method of mutual support. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
    All good wishes!!
    Anne

  • http://2dollardifference.com/ Anne

    Hello!
    
I am interested in encouraging others to also try eating for less and have started a new blog, http://2dollardifference.com, to give support and resources in this awareness raising activity about hunger in the world by experiencing eating for $2 a day.


    Would you be willing to visit my new blog and make a comment about your experiences of eating for less? I would also be happy to put a link to your blog as referencing “experiences of eating for less”.
    

I applaud your efforts to draw attention to issues of hunger and I hope that you will support the cause through this method of mutual support. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
    

All good wishes!!
    Anne

  • http://2dollardifference.com/ Anne

    Hello!
    I am interested in encouraging others to also try eating for less and have started a new blog, http://2dollardifference.com, to give support and resources in this awareness raising activity about hunger in the world by experiencing eating for $2 a day.
    Would you be willing to visit my new blog to make a comment about your experiences of eating for less?
    I applaud your efforts to draw attention to issues of hunger and I hope that you will support the cause through this method of mutual support. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
    All good wishes!!
    Anne

  • http://www.pmpproducts.com/buy/chesssets-all.html chess set

    This economic downturn and going downhill of the economy has a lot of people and family members pinching pennies and racking your brains on how to pay out their expenses. A lot of people are looking for tips chess set

  • http://www.isdark.com/bh/forumdisplay.php/10-Affiliate-Programs-Adsense-amp-more cookie dropping

    clickbank cookie stuffing have the ability clickbank cookie stuffing

  • http://1800mattress.org 1800 mattress

    fznmltzrffeqwfa, zaposlitev, oEeoFutqJgEtojOzZhCm.