The “Live Below The Line” challenge

A couple of weeks ago Jonah Lomu announced that for 5 days this month he and his family were each going to live on just $2.25 a day.   This is to raise awareness for UNICEF”s “Live Below the Line” challenge. I admire his intention but will this really help the poor?

Saturday’s DomPost Your Weekend section ran an article “$2.25 Buys a big Lesson” where Ruth Nichol recalls her family being part of last year’s “Live Below the Line” challenge. When she shopped for the minuscule amounts she could afford she was humbled to see other shoppers doing the same.  But they weren’t economising for just a few days.  They shopped like this all the time.  She was struck by how privileged her life is.

Many years ago with a couple of other Sisters I ran a Mission in the west of New South Wales with the local Aboriginal people. We ran a medical clinic, pre-school and junior school on a pittance and aimed to live as closely as possible to the people around us.

But I learnt that despite all our intentions we could never truly live their lives.  We had the education and the networks, which enabled us to escape. We never faced the despair and sense of helplessness that seemingly never-ending poverty can bring.

Probably the big thing “Live Below the Line” achieves is that it raises the awareness of the general population of how others are struggling to survive.

And these are not only the 1.4 billion people in developing countries but also thousands of low-income New Zealanders.

Perhaps with celebrities raising the consciousness of many of us it may prevent the snide remarks of some prominent businessmen when the organisation “The Living Wage” was launched last week. Perhaps some celebrities may even lend their fame to help New Zealanders who are finding it so difficult to raise their families despite their hard work. Perhaps they may join “The Living Wage.”


  • Sr. Catherine Hannan
Sister Catherine Hannan is a Home of Compassion sister.




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