image Challenge 30: £5 for 5 days

I know this isn’t a book post but this is the only medium I have for sharing at the moment so I thought why not…! Here is a post I wrote for the HarperCollins home page about Challenge 30, an initiative set up by Helen Huthwaite to raise money for a charity called SALVE International. SALVE (Support And Love Via Education) works to help get children in Uganda off the streets, and this particular challenge asks you to spend just £1 a day on food and drink over the course of 5 days. I began yesterday, so I’m on day 2. Safe to say it’s hard…read on to find out more and please share if you can to boost awareness and donations…THANK YOU!

So the £1 a day challenge didn’t get off to the best start when the Sainsbury’s I went to didn’t sell lentils…I’d heard that these were the staple for this task so was very bemused to the point that I actually asked the shop assistant whether it was ‘normal’ not to sell lentils. I think I was already slightly grumpy…

After this minor setback, I decided to make the most of what they had (a gigantic luxury compared to those living below the line) and proceeded to wander around the aisles with an empty basket, trying to avoid looking at the packets of delicious chocolate biscuits, the ripe avocadoes and the glorious cartons of orange juice. All off limits.
It took me quite a while to fill my basket; I was constantly picking things up and putting them down again, trying and failing to do mental arithmetic in my head, and probably getting in the way of all the busy shoppers who were wondering why I was taking so long to decide between a can of baked beans and a packet of basics pasta.
Eventually I emerged, and my final list is as follows:
Bread (brown, sliced) 40p
Peanut butter 65p
Baked beans 25p
Porridge oats 70p
Pasta 35p
Sardines tin 40p
1 pack peppers £1
Tinned tomatoes 35p
Tinned tomatoes 35p
Tinned tomatoes 35p
Total = £4.80
So I still have that precious 20p, which I’m hoping to spend on a banana at some point this week when the going gets tough. I’m not the most inventive person in the kitchen so knowing myself I opted for basic things which won’t need a lot of preparing – although I imagine I’ll be sick of tomatoes and pasta by the end of the week. I was going to buy a tub of yoghurt but had to put it back at the check-out, so it’s porridge with water for breakfast every day. For lunch, I’m having pasta with tomatoes and peppers (slightly worried the pasta supply might run out, at which point I switch to peanut butter sandwiches…) Last night I had baked beans on toast, and have saved half the tin to have this evening.
Yesterday my friends wanted to go to the flower (and FOOD!) market on Columbia Road, so I sat and drank endless cups of water while they all devoured scrambled eggs, mozzarella and ham sandwiches, you name it. Torturous!
Lunch on day 2
Above: lunch on day 2
However, despite the hunger pangs, this challenge is really making me think. It is absolutely amazing how much we take for granted in the Western world, and removing the opportunity to drink constant cups of tea/coffee/juice, and the chance to snack on whatever takes your fancy at any point in the day – well, it’s a real eye-opener. When I was going round the shop I kept thinking about people who have to feed their families, the calculations they have to do in their head, the bulk buying and planning that goes into feeding people other than yourself on a shoestring budget.
The poverty line in Uganda is something most of us have probably never considered (myself included until now) and while this is something I’m doing for five days, for them it is their daily life. What has shocked and saddened me the most is the fact that what I’ll be eating this week is so low in nutritional value – salads and fruit are far too expensive, as is fresh juice, and most vegetables. As I looked at my carrier bag of food the overwhelming colour inside was beige; it’s food that might fill you up but is fairly tasteless and lacking in essential nutrients that we need – if not to physically survive, but certainly to grow and to flourish.
I’m drinking a mug of hot water as I type this, but for many people, this too is a luxury. I didn’t have to walk miles to a water pump in order to get it, and I am 100% sure that the water is pure and won’t harm me. For some, that is no guarantee.
So please take a moment today to think about the challenge, and about what it means. If you want to sponsor me, my donations page can be found here and all the money is going to S.A.L.V.E. International. Every little helps! At Team Avon we are also fundraising by running a quiz (on the theme of celebrity chefs) – so come by the desks on Floor 16 and pay £2 to enter by the end of this week. Thank you. 
Phoebe x


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