One nice and one nasty surprise as I begin living below the line

oatsAs this is my fourth year taking the Live Below the Line challenge, in all honesty, I didn’t really expect to experience anything new. I continue to take the challenge year-on-year because it renews my passion to see an end to extreme poverty and makes me appreciate all I have, while raising funds for ongoing work toward eradicating poverty.

On Wednesday I stopped into Sainsbury’s to pick up a few final items for the five-day challenge ahead. At the self-checkout, I anxiously rung my items through, hoping I hadn’t exceeded my meagre budget. When it came time to pay, I glanced at the coin slot only to find the person before me had left their change. Hoorah! A mere 15p to the previous customer was an extra 15% on my daily food allowance. In that celebratory moment I decided I am definitely going to leave my change behind, once in a while. You just never know when your loose change might mean significantly more to the next person in the queue.

Today, I was faced with a far less positive realisation. Taking the challenge for the first time as a mother, I had no idea the impact it might have on my five-month-old baby. By 5pm this afternoon, my milk supply had dwindled so much that I had to tap into my store of frozen milk in our freezer. I genuinely never thought my milk would be affected at all, never mind so early in the challenge. As I struggled to feed my daughter and she became frustrated at the lack of forthcoming nourishment, I began to cry. Not so much for myself or my child – I have the reassurance of backup milk – but for the mothers around the world who simply cannot feed their babies because they don’t even have enough food for themselves. To watch your child starve must be one of the most horrific agonies any parent could endure. Today I merely got a glimpse of what it must feel like and I was done…heartbroken. If I was so utterly desperate I would hope someone more privileged, somewhere in the world, cared enough to do something about it.

That is why I am doing this, again, for the fourth time. And I will continue to play my part until no mother, genuinely living below the poverty line, ever has to watch her child starve. You can stand with me by taking the challenge too or supporting here. No amount is insignificant.

Today I ate porridge, lentil cottage pie, sweet potato and lentil curry with rice and three mini banana muffins, all washed down with two cups of tea. Meals totaled 70p for the day.


7 thoughts on “One nice and one nasty surprise as I begin living below the line

  1. Hi Roxanne,
    Your body is far more dedicated to feeding your baby than you seem to believe… Maybe your baby is teething, you have taken something to suppress your supply (decongestant like Lemsip?) or your hormones are kicking off?
    These links here
    give some info on diet and breastfeeding.
    I struggle quite a bit with your inference that women on limited means can’t breastfeed as too poor….. In fact I would suggest the opposite… Less money spent on formula is more money to be spent on proper food.

    • Hi Kate,
      Thanks for your comment. I won’t deny that my reduced supply could very well have been due to another reason (perhaps even psychological). But it did just make me think how awful it would be if I couldn’t feed my child. I don’t mention formula because that would be totally outside the means of someone living on less than £1/day. Of course not all mother’s living in extreme poverty are unable to feed their babies, but with 19,000 children under the age of five dying each day from hunger and disease, infant mortality is a major issue. That is the point I am really trying to make: no mother should have to watch her child starve…and too many do.

  2. It is hard Roxanne, one of the reasons I have taken the challenge this year is because when my elder daughter was 2 yrs old & the younger a breastfeeding baby I was in the position of living this way. I daily faced the question of feed the toddler or risk my milk drying up. Fortunately I had a goat in milk, & a neighbour who was happy to exchange eggs for milk. The village baker dropped off surplus bread at the end of the day( for the goats ) & the village butcher gave me good meaty bones ( for the dog ). We survived & both girls are now healthy adults, but I have never forgotten that time & I will do whatever I can to take other mothers out of that situation.

  3. This story needed sharing, it’s something that many of us would not even have really thought about.

    I am just coming to the end of my five days ‘Below the Line’ and knowing how befuddled I feel, and that’s with not having to feed a young baby, I think you have done marvelously well to have taken part this year. WELL DONE 🙂

    • Many thanks for your encouragement, Sue. It is greatly appreciated. I hope you have had something tasty to celebrate the end of your five day challenge!

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