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Poverty Challenge Gathers Steam as MPs Get Involved

Poverty Challenge Gathers Steam as MPs Get Involved

The Live Below the Line Challenge is getting hundreds of kiwis signed up to experience extreme poverty by living for just $2.25 a day for 5 days in September. Since the launch of the 2012 campaign last month, over 250 people have signed up for the experiential challenge designed to engage empathy and spark discussions about poverty.

“We’re thrilled to see the enthusiasm for this challenge,” said Will Watterson, NZ Country Director for the Global Poverty Project that coordinates the nation-wide event. “We’re getting lots of interest from all walks of life, from students, to community leaders and several Members of Parliament.”

Green MP Jan Logie recently signed up to take the Live Below the Line Challenge, along with her colleague Denise Roche.

"I'm looking forward to the chance to think about what I take for granted and reflect on the daily realities of all too many people,” said Ms Logie. “I hope my fellow politicians from across parliament will join me in this venture and commit to making the legislative and policy change we all need for a fairer world."

Mr Watterson says he is pleased to get leaders like Ms Logie on board, but he is not surprised by the interest in this issue.

“We all know that there are 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty and some people wonder what we can do, how we can bring it into our political discussion,” he said. “The Live Below the Line challenge gives politicians, farmers, professionals and everyday kiwis the chance to feel what it’s like for people in extreme poverty. The challenge gives us all a chance to talk about it and catalyze the movement for solutions.”

Mr Watterson says he hopes that dozens of MPs will take the challenge from all parties, as he stressed that extreme poverty is not an issue of partisan politics but of moral urgency.

“This is about human beings understanding the hardships of other human beings," Mr Watterson said. "We have the resources and the knowledge to end extreme poverty; its time we started applying them.”

Mr Watterson says the Live Below the Line campaign is gathering momentum from political support, but also through the ‘guerrilla marketing’ efforts of the Global Poverty Project Ambassadors around the country. According to Mr Watterson, Ben Dowdle got dozens of students to sign up at Pakuranga College through cleverly coordinated chalk messages.

“Across the country we have a team of inspired young people working to spread the message about Live Below the Line,” he said. “We’re so excited to see this next generation getting involved in this issue, as they are the ones who could actually see an end to extreme poverty in their lifetimes.”

In addition to the alternative marketing techniques, Mr Watterson also cited the Live Below the Line Short Film Competition as a new way to get people engaged in the issue of global poverty.

“The film competition is really about unleashing the creative voices of people all around the country,” Mr Watterson said. “We all know that there is something wrong with this level of global imbalance, and we want to hear the voices of hope and inspiration to show us the way forward.”

Mr Watterson said the winners of the short film competition will be screened in a specially modified Film Container on Aotea Square in September. Entries for the competition close on the 7th of September.

Mr Watterson invites all New Zealanders to take the Live Below the Line Challenge and sign up at www.livebelowtheline.com/nz The challenge runs from the 24th-28th of September.



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