What would you do if you only had one dollar a day to live on? If you didn’t know where your next paycheque was coming from? If you had to choose between sending your children to school or feeding them?
For many of us, this seems like an impossible notion, but for 1.1 billion people around the world, living on ONE dollar is a daily reality.
I just watched the documentary Living on One Dollar, where four American friends head to a rural village in Guatemala for two months to experience what it’s like to live on one dollar a day. Each morning, they would draw a number from 0-9 out of a hat. This number represented how much money they had to spend that day. Somedays, it was 0, other days they were lucky and could buy bananas along with their rice and beans. They took out a loan for $125, which had to be paid back bi-weekly in increments of $6.50 or so. With this, they rented a one room house where they slept on the concrete floor. They also planted radishes so they’d have some income once their crop grew. During this time, they interviewed some of the 300 locals living in Pena Blanca, Guatemala. Their stories are both inspiring and heartbreaking, but regardless of how little they have, they are all willing to open up their homes and lives to their neighbours and these four Americans.
I’ve traveled to places very similar to Pena Blanca where extreme poverty surrounds you and I’ve always been incredibly touched by the generosity I’ve been shown by complete strangers, who have invited me in for a meal, even though they really couldn’t afford it.
Over the years, I’ve often found myself broke and struggling to pay rent and buy groceries, but I always know I have another paycheque coming or I have family, friends and options available to me when I get really stuck. Those times are stressful enough and I only have to take care of myself. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to have a family to support, be making a dollar a day and not even knowing when my next day of work will be.
Listening to these guys talk about their experience and watching the interviews they did with the locals really puts things back in perspective.
As one of them said,
“It’s not due to laziness that someone is poor. It’s not due to a lack of ambition or lack of intelligence, it’s because they lack things that we take advantage of everyday.”
We don’t realize the daily things we take for granted – education, clean water, food in our belly and a roof over our head. These are things we just expect to have. But watching this documentary reminded me it could just as easily have been me in that situation and still could be.
To learn more about the film, the project and to get involved visit http://livingonone.org/livingonone/film/ or watch the documentary on Netflix