Wednesday, 21 May 2014

10 down ... 8 more to go!

By Noelene Scerri

Picture this: You're stepping off the bus to walk to University. It's a cloudless day, a soft breeze caresses your face gently and draws a smile upon it, and a strong feeling that it's going to be a pretty good day builds up so quickly it almost seems unbeatable. That's when your senses burst to life and reality hits home. The smell of grilled, juice-dripping chicken sitting idly on top of a crisp, fresh salad forces your head to look left at Spuntino. That's all right. Just a slight effort of resisting temptation and you keep on moving forward because nothing, nothing, is going to beat this glorious day! Then... mmmm..... perfectly cooked dough heavily sprinkled with layers of stretching mozzarella and all other sorts of ingredients. You ignore this, or at least pretend to, because you can't help but stare longingly at the people sitting at the tables eating pizzas. No need to worry. All that comes next are the out-of-this-world Turkish kebabs, and the smell of burgers and salted fries. [Ignore this, Noelene, ignore this.] You turn the final corner and you think that the worst is all behind you because all that remains now in the street are some stationeries. The smile starts creeping up again, slowly and cautiously. And before you know it you've fallen right in the trap. The aroma of melted chocolate and strong coffee jumps on you, catching you off guard from the Kreperie. You actually close your eyes to savour the smell and remember that 4 pieces of sandwich with 2 pieces of salami is all that you've got to eat in the next six hours or so: breakfast and lunch, all in one! Awesome.

Throughout the 1.21 challenge that I've decided to initially do for 15 days, this has been the test for me: the exaggerated amount and variety of foods that I incessantly see around me. People keep on consuming and consuming and yet, there is still a large amount of food that goes to waste. On the other hand, 1.2 billion people around the world live below the poverty line. Does that stir anything in you? If yes, do something about it. Donate money to any charity or just notice homeless people. Acknowledging them and exchanging a smile is a pretty good start. And if you feel nothing, well, then you've gotta see someone mate.

In these ten days, I've given in twice to temptation. The first time, was two days ago. Alone at home, trying to work on an assignment and the presence of food growing behind me. I snapped, opened the cupboard and attacked a can of caponata. The second time was, in fact, today while studying with friends at University. I gave in to a piece of pizza, a kinder bueno and a bottle of Pepsi. Yup, that's €3.50. Which means that someone uses that amount of money to live on for three days. It also means that I have to pay the price and extend the 15 days to 18. I haven't always spent 1.21 each day so the extra money I've 'saved' up went on the caponata. On the rest of the days, I've normally eaten a ftira or 4 pieces of sandwich or ciabata for lunch and breakfast and then, in the evening,  a plate of pasta, or a fish finger with an egg or thrown something similar on the plate.

That's why I decided to do this 1.21 challenge. To get a feeling of what it's like to live on 1.21 each day for just a small period of time. Even more so, whilst some of these 1.2 billion people don't have a roof over their heads, a family, a job or an education, I have a home and am still studying. So, no, I don't know what it's really like to live below the poverty line. I don't know how people manage to do that for days on end, all for the sake of survival and hope for a better life. I've donated €40 to Amplify and hoped to collect at least €500 so that a medical centre in a poor region in Cambodia can keep on helping its patients, children, men, women and people with disabilities alike. I still have eight more days to collect that 500, so do help out if you want to, please. After all, where's the harm in helping strangers?

Friday, 16 May 2014

Last Day!!

By Steve Hili

Today is the last day of the challenge.  We're only a few hours away from getting back into our 'normal' routines.

First of all I would like to say well done to all of those taking part. And thank you to all of those who supported us. The medical centre looks like it can be funded for over a year thanks to the wonderful donations.  But if anyone wants to give us a bit more PLEASE DO -

People said that we would survive and we knew of course that we would. After all  1.2 billion people survive under the poverty line every single day.

But for those people who think that living like this would not really impact them much, I invite them to try it. Just an experiment. Personally I thought it would be a bit easier.

Here a just a few random thoughts as we round up the week

  • Buying everything and working things out was exhausting. And also needing to portion things out was a real pain. It really was not easy.
  • There was a lot of time where we were actually hungry. Not starving but hungry and head-achy. When the portions of food were simply not enough.
  • I was lethargic for a lot of this week. I had hardly no energy yesterday and could not concentrate on some essential work that I needed to get done.
  • Drinking tap water really got me down for some reason. It really put me in a mood.
But here we are. Friday morning!

Today we've got oats for brekkie (again) Egg sandwich for lunch (again) and a baked potato or two for dinner.  There might be an extra potato to be eaten today too. Happy days!

And at midnight it will all be over.

For us that is. Not for the 1.2 billion.

When you think of it like that, it is embarrassing to think that I dared moan this week.

We hope we have made a tiny difference this week. And we hope that we have got a few more people talking about poverty.

I feel proud. We did something. Something small. But for us at least it was not insignificant.

But as we congratulate ourselves (as we should) let's not forget those who will still be living in and around the poverty line tomorrow. And the day after.  For them the challenge continues.

Thanks everyone and well done!

Steve x 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Home stretch ....

By Kathryn Baldacchino

So here we are with only two days left of the 121 Challenge. I have to admit that I underestimated how difficult it would be.

I think I'm missing my cup of coffees through the day the most, as I'm feeling utterly lethargic. The water has been a real struggle, and so has the volume of food. I would say I'm an average to big eater on a normal day, therefore having smaller portion sizes of food that isn't that nutritionally packed with goodness has been a struggle and I'm physically feeling run down because of it.

Yesterday's rice wasn't so bad, the evaporated milk made it palatable, but I'm not looking forward to finishing off the pasta we made the other night as that was not very nice.

Sarcastic grin at pasta with thin red sauce
I'm really really pleased to see the donations coming in - we've exceeded €2300.00 this morning, and we've also been given a few hundred in cash which is not on the website. Things are looking really good and at this rate there is a good chance we will manage to support the medical center for a whole year.

I'm also really appreciating the support we're receiving from many quarters, and from people we've never met before. People's generosity astounds me, especially considering that this fundraiser is for a Cambodian NGO most people had never heard of, and to support people that most people will never meet. Of course I am also aware of the hardship and poverty that exist near us all every day in Malta, and I hope that some of the generosity will also extend to them. I have always supported YMCA whenever I
can and encourage others to do the same. We're not supporting an NGO in Cambodia to the exclusion of being aware of poverty issues in Malta. I hope that by raising awareness of poverty in general we are also highlighting the situation in Malta. 

More recipe ideas ...

By Alexandra White

I was looking for cheap and nutritious recipes and thought I'd ask the experts. I wrote to Jamie Oliver's Kitchen Garden Project and here is the reply. The websites offer some great recipe ideas!

Hi Alexandra,

Thanks so much for your email and for getting in touch-it's really interesting to hear about the 1.12 challenge-what an inspirational idea!

Well as a first point of call why not take a look at our Ministry of Food recipes-many of these were created with low budgets in mind.

Furthermore, do take a look at the recipes on Jamie's Home Cooking Skills as again these are very simple and cost effective. 

And lastly take a look at the resources on the Food For Life Partnership website-again many of the recipes are super simple yet fun to make! 
We do wish you the best of luck with the challenge and hope that you keep us posted on your progress!
Jamie's Kitchen Garden Project Team x

Jamie Oliver's Kitchen Garden Project
Facebook: Jamie’s Kitchen Garden Project
Twitter: @jamieskgp

Monday, 12 May 2014

First day is done!

By Steve Hili

Day 1 of the challenge is drawing to a close.
And I am starving. And in a bit of a bad mood. (I get like that when I am hungry).
We bought everything on Saturday and actually came in 3c under budget which was quite incredible.  And after a hearty meal last night, it was time to jump right in.
Food today was oats for brekkie, and an egg sandwich for lunch.  We had pasta with a very weak tomato sauce for dinner. We bought a big packet of pasta so we should get another dinner out of it. And possibly something to bulk up the lunches.
And we managed to fit in a small packet of raisins to our budget so we are adding a couple to everything!
The worse part of the day was the tap water for me. Urgh. And finishing dinner and still being hungry.
Also having to work everything out. I have learnt of people who live like this (even here in Malta) everyday. Figuring it all out must be exhausting.
I think today was the worst day. First days always are right? Also for some reason I was so excited about the challenge I hardly slept last night.
Tuesday will be...interesting. I am performing in the evening (a stand -up gig) and I am usually quite  high energy but this evening I feel like I can hardly move!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

1.21€ - you'll survive on that!

By Steve Hili

The challenge looms! On Sunday night we will be eating our last 'proper' meal and going to bed before waking up to face 5 days of trying to balance around the poverty line.

The reaction to the challenge has been interesting. The vast majority of people seem to understand what we are trying to do, others seem to take a perverse pleasure in sending me pictures of strawberry cheesecake (!), and a couple of people have said to me - you'll survive on that.

You'll survive on that.

Of course we will. 1.2 billion people survive below the poverty line every day. The point is not to starve to death, the point is that life has to go on.

We are trying to live on 1.21€. Not die. I have got stand-up gigs to do. I have got radio shows to present and produce.  Other participants have  got to do their respective jobs, kids have got to go to school. Conferences need to be attended. Business decisions need to be made. (Not by me though so rest assured!)

It is an experiment -  live our life in this way for 5 days. Just to get a small taster (bad choice of word?) of what it would be like.

We are doing this (as well as trying to raise funds to support the incredible work our medical centre is doing in Cambodia) to raise a bit of awareness about a global situation.

And of course we are lucky. We are choosing to do this. Other people have no choice. Other people need to live like this every single day. Not only that but from their tiny amount of money they need to factor in other costs. Medicines. Transport. Heating.

On Saturday 17th May when it is all over, we'll be stuffing ourselves, eating whatever  we want. They won't. For them the challenge continues.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The 1.21 Challenge!

By Alexandra White

We have more children then anticipated doing the 1.21 challenge with the youngest being only 5 years old - I've been told they have been primed and willing to participate in our challenge. However I
am sure there will come a time during the 5 days that we will have some unhappy children.

For many of us parents depriving our children of any food whims or wants goes against our grain. As parents we want and like to see our kids eating well and healthily - we are satisfied when they
return an empty plate. Never is the fruit bowl empty and we would never say no to a request for an extra apple or banana!

But what if your child was always hungry - what if all you could offer your growing child was rice, cheap carbohydrates and processed food?

Whilst doing research for this challenge my friends and I have concluded that healthy fresh food costs money and needs time to prepare - commodities that are not available when living on the
bread line. (Bread line means you're poor, your income is so low you barely have enough money to buy basic food) AMAZINGLY enough this applies to over half the worlds population.

The reason my friends and I have only just made this conclusion is because we have never had to worry about the price of food - we just pick a recipe and buy what we want - our children have never
gone with out and although no-one likes to waste food we're not worried about not having enough for tomorrow.

But next week we are eating on the poverty line AND we haven't stopped thinking
about how we're going to manage and feed our kids for 5 days - imagine having this daily burden - How do these people cope.
This challenge is indeed thought provoking!
Please donate on :