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Sight-restoring charity asks Kiwis to Live Below the Line

Sight-restoring charity asks Kiwis to Live Below the Line

The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ today calls on the New Zealand public to join a host of global and local celebrities and sign up for the Live Below the Line challenge to support The Foundation’s effort to end avoidable blindness in the Pacific.

Live Below the Line is a global initiative which aims to build a movement to end the extreme poverty experienced by 1.2 billion people. The experiential challenge has previously attracted the support of major celebrities including Ben Affleck, Hugh Jackman, Josh Groban and Sophia Bush.

Closer to home, Shortland Street stars Jacqueline Nairn, Sally Martin and Amelia Reid will all live for $2.25 a day for five days to support The Foundation. High profile gourmet chef Michael Meredith is also backing the challenge and will spend a day below the poverty line to help highlight the link between extreme poverty and preventable blindness.

For Shortland Street star Jacqueline Nairn, the challenge offers a chance to appreciate how hard it is for people living in extreme poverty.

“Live Below the Line will be a big dose of perspective and a different way of thinking about budgeting, meals and food shopping,” Nairn said. “I'll be Living Below the Line and thinking outside the square while trying to raise money for the extraordinary work The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ does.”

The challenge demands that participants live at the level of extreme poverty for five days and spend only $2.25 a day for all food and drink. They then ask friends, fans and family to support them and their chosen charity in this difficult endeavour.

Nairn’s co-star Sally Martin sees the challenge as an opportunity to focus attention on positive solutions and tangible actions people can take to help others.

“Extreme poverty is an unnecessary global problem,” said Martin. “We truly can make change. I'm taking part in Live Below the Line to help draw attention to the issue and to experience for myself a teeny fraction of what it is like to survive on the poverty line.”

For Amelia Reid, a third Shortland Street star backing The Foundation, Live Below the Line is a chance to celebrate the urgent and achievable work of helping people in under-resourced countries see.

“It only takes $25 to restore someone’s sight with a simple cataract surgery, which is just incredible,” Reid said. “I’m hoping lots of other Kiwis will join us, so we can restore sight to whole communities of people across the Pacific.”

The Foundation is standing shoulder to shoulder with 21 other anti-poverty organisations to take part in the NZ version of the Live Below the Line. The initiative runs from the 23-27 September but participants are encouraged to sign up early, get support and plan their meagre menus. The symbolic act of empathy is part of an international movement to increase engagement through direct experience of the challenges and hardships of extreme poverty.

“We’re thrilled to have so many familiar faces generously supporting the campaign on our behalf”, said The Foundation’s Executive Director, Andrew Bell. “We’re touched by their enthusiasm and their efforts to help us end avoidable blindness. These extraordinary individuals will inspire other Kiwis to get involved.”

An estimated 39 million people globally are blind, and 90% of them live in developing countries. The Foundation’s work alleviates poverty by restoring sight to the needlessly blind and training local eye health specialists to provide eye care services in their own communities.

“When you give someone back their sight, you give them back their independence, and reduce the socio-economic burden placed on families and communities,” said Bell.

Sign up to Live Below the Line today or sponsor someone taking the challenge at livebelowtheline.com/nz-fhf.


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