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Helen Clark to get a taste of life below the poverty line

Press release for immediate use
Helen Clark to get a taste of life below the poverty line

While Wellingtonians are enjoying some of the capital’s best food at Wellington on a Plate events on Thursday, former Prime Minister Helen Clark will be having a dining experience of a different sort – a bagged lunch worth just 60 cents.

Ms Clark will get a taste of life below the poverty line when she takes part in a conversation with VSA (Volunteer Service Abroad) CEO Gill Greer at the Spectrum Theatre in Wellington on Thursday, August 22. The subject of their conversation is The Future We Want: The Millennium Development Goals and Beyond.

VSA will provide Ms Clark and her audience with a bagged lunch worth 60 cents to help promote Live Below the Line, an annual fundraising event in which participants live on $2.25 a day – the equivalent of the extreme poverty line – for five days. VSA is one of eight partners supporting Live Below the Line 2013, which runs from September 23 to 27.

Each lunch bag will contain a small oat biscuit (cost: 25 cents), six rice crackers (20 cents), six carrot sticks (10 cents) and, as a treat, a lollipop (5 cents) – a total cost of 60 cents.

During the conversation Ms Clark, who is Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, will talk about the progress that has been made on the Millennium Development Goals, the eight international development targets set in 2000 to reduce or eradicate extreme poverty and its effects.

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All 189 UN member states (including New Zealand) agreed to achieve the goals by 2015. As well as wiping out extreme poverty they include achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, improving maternal health, and combatting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Ms Clark will also discuss ideas for combatting the development challenges the world will face after 2015.

Following the conversation the audience will be invited to ask questions. Among them will be 25 student leaders from nine Wellington secondary schools.

The event will take place at the Spectrum Theatre, Waring Taylor St, from 1pm to 2pm on Thursday, August 22.

CEO Gill Greer says that as an organisation that is working to help achieve the Millennium Developments Goals, VSA is honoured to be able to host a New Zealander and a global leader with such an in-depth knowledge of the issues involved.

“Helen absolutely understands the challenges facing an inequitable but interconnected world, and the challenges we will all face after 2015. The global financial crisis and climate issues mean the world is a very different from what it was in 2000, when the goals were first set.”


About VSA (Volunteer Service Abroad)
Who we are
• VSA is New Zealand's largest and most experienced volunteering agency working in international development.
• We bring Kiwi volunteers and partner organisations together to share skills and experience to help people in the wider Pacific build a better future for themselves and their children.

• VSA has 85 to 100 volunteers in the field at any one time. During the 2011-2012 financial year, volunteers undertook 150 assignments.
• Over the past 50 years we have recruited more than 3000 ordinary New Zealanders to achieve extraordinary work with our in-country partner organisations.
• Our volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds, from business mentors and lawyers to IT advisers and eco-tourism operators.
How we work
• We work with our in-country partners overseas to make sure that all our assignments are locally identified, locally relevant, and locally delivered.
• Our goal is to transfer skills and knowledge so that the changes achieved during an assignment are sustainable once a volunteer returns to New Zealand.
• We have both long (12 months and over) and short-term assignments and currently work in Melanesia, Polynesia and Timor-Leste.
• We also work with our New Zealand partners to provide innovative volunteering opportunities, making it possible for more New Zealanders to volunteer and contribute to lasting change.
• VSA is a registered charity and is non-religious, non-political and non-governmental.
• VSA needs ongoing financial support so that we can continue to send Kiwi volunteers to share their skills with communities in the wider Pacific.
• VSA is supported by the New Zealand Aid programme, together with private and corporate donations.
For more information visit

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