This is not a sob story

Priyani lives on $2 a day

Priyani has been living on $2 a day for the past month

Today I met Priyani. A young girl living off $2 a day in Melbourne.

She’s sitting at fold-up camper table in the middle of Bourke St Mall.

It’s 1pm, lunch rush-hour in the CBD. The pretty Indian-looking girl is sitting in between two giggling friends, eating rice from a tupperware container.

Shyly, they offer me a small bag of rice. This will be the 27th day Priyani has had rice for lunch. And she’ll have another bowl for dinner tonight.

She’s not homeless or broke. In fact, Priyani works 40 hours a week in a restaurant.

The rice (and oats for breakfast) diet is part of a campaign to help raise awareness in Australia of extreme poverty.

Live Below The Line in Bourke St

Living below the poverty line on Bourke St

Around 1500 Australians are joining her this week for the official Live Below The Line campaign, which runs from 2-6th August.

So what’s it like to live for $2 a day in Melbourne?  She tells me she constantly feels tired, and her memory has gone. Such are the symptoms of malnutrition. For the full experience, check out her open diary.  She’s aiming to raise $500 toward education programs.

Onto the campaign.

Live Below the Line logo

Live Below The Line is a good example of making the most your ‘flag-wavers’, those like Priyani who are active participants in your cause. By helping them to be as connected as possible – to their online friends and to other participants – you start to build a strong web of support. Traditionally, online sponsorship  models like Everyday Heroes only allow individuals to interact with their supporters.

All the content on the is share-friendly; from venting about your hunger on a hosted-blog, discussing the drama with fellow faminers on the forum, to sharing out to other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.  It’s easy and integrated.

There’s a genuine community here, heavily populated by Gen Y’s.  It’s like a pimped-out 40-hour famine mashed up with the 2.0 picnic-challenge.

Lesson for short-term awareness campaigns: set up a challenge that’s both relatively achievable and relevant, and provide your participants with the right tools to share their common experience.

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