121 Challenge

People waiting outside the clinic that was set up by Amplify in Cambodia Steve by Rene Rossignaud

A group of Maltese people, including radio personality and comedian Steve Hili, are aiming to eat on €1.21 a day for five days in order to raise awareness about extreme poverty in the world, and to raise funds to change lives in one of the poorest countries on the planet.

The 121 challenge was inspired by the global Live Below the Line movement and  is being led locally by members of the NGO Amplify. This challenge aims to bring into focus some of the experiences of the 1.2 billion people around the world who live in extreme poverty.

At the same time the Amplify team aims to collect funds to continue to support a medical centre which the group set up in Southern Cambodia in 2008 and which continues to transformed the lives of some of the poorest people in the world.

Why €1.21? Steve explains.

‘In 2005 The World Bank defined The International Extreme Poverty Line at $1.25. If you live on less than that you are considered to be living in extreme poverty. Some people might say that $1.25 is actually quite a lot for people living in developing countries. But that is wrong. The figure of $1.25 was reached by working out how much you would have to live on if you were living in extreme poverty in the USA.

The Live Below the Line movement has worked out what living like this this would be equal to in countries where the challenge is being held. After factoring in inflation and the values of goods they came up with national figures. £1 in the UK. $2 in Australia etc.

Pinning ourselves  to the UK (as the closest country where  Live Below the Line is being done) exchange rates dictated that the participants would have to live on €1.21 a day. So that is what we’re doing.’

Amplify was set up after Steve and his wife Kathryn spent a year and a half living in Cambodia and Namibia doing volunteer work.  It was whilst in Cambodia, working with youths with disabilities that Steve and Kathryn were told about the essential need to set up a medical centre to service people in the remote village of Kampot.

Soon friends and family, especially Steve’s sister Alexandra (who is also doing the challenge) got involved with fundraising for the centre and within months it was set up, functioning, and actually changing lives.

‘For us, respect and partnerships are the cornerstones of any development work. Long-term volunteering really opened our eyes to the fact that us ‘westeners’ do not have all the answers to the ills of the world. So when we were told that our local partners felt that a medical centre was essential and that they needed some help with that, we got really excited. The centre has now been running for a number of years, providing free consultation and medicine for, amongst others new mothers, children and young people with disabilities and is doing great work but still needs some assistance as it strives to become more sustainable. We hope that we can provide some through the 121 challenge.

And how possible is it to live on €1.21?

Steve said ‘Well €1.21 is the amount we can spend on food every day. We can have as much tap water as we want. As you can see I am desperately trying to look on the bright side. But I am starving just thinking about it!’

The 121 challenge is being held from Monday 12th May to Friday 16th May. If you would like to take part contact the Amplify team on amplifymalta@gmail.com

Donations can be made  on www.betternow.org/mt/amplify

You can also follow all the goings on at www.the121challenge.blogspot.com and on facebook ( The 121 Challenge)