Living below the line to raise awareness of poverty and hunger
From Monday 7th to Friday 11th May 2012 amazing ChildHope supporters have been spending only £1 a day on all their food and drink. I’d like to extend a huge thank you on behalf of ChildHope to all the people who have supported us during this week. They’ve raised money to support our work in Asia, Africa and South America and used the opportunity to talk about issues of hunger and poverty with friends, relatives, colleagues and anyone else who will listen!
A number of ChildHope staff, volunteers and Trustees have been participating in the Live Below the Line challenge, so we know how difficult ithas been at times. The sweetest people have been grumpy and we’re exhausted by 6pm. We’ve talked non-stop about food prices, recipes, the difficulty of socialising without food and drink and the near impossibility of finding cheap ‘ethical’ food. But it’s been fun too – doing the challenge together and knowing that we have the backing of so many people has raised team spirit and given us extra energy!
How hunger and poverty affects street and working children
The experience has heightened our awareness of the issues of hunger and poverty experienced by the children, young people and families we work with. While the Live Below the Line challenge enabled us to catch a glimpse of life under tight financial restrictions, hunger is a day-to-day experience for the people ChildHope supports. We’ve been complaining that it’s ‘lentils and rice again’, but many children have to make the choice of whether to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, or whether to spend their money on somewhere to sleep or food.
Hunger and poverty driving young people to the streetsMany of the children we support have ended up on the streets because of poverty and hunger at home. Children feel pressure to support their families, so they drop out of school, leave home and head to the cities; aiming for a better life and to earn enough money to send back to help their parents. They plan to work and access education in the city. They feel they will find more opportunities, but their knowledge of city life is often limited and naïve.
A recent study of this ‘risky migration’ carried out by CHADET, our partner in Ethiopia, showed that the vast majority of children in this situation never achieve their dreams. The longer they are separated from their families, the harder they find it to return. They rarely earn enough money to send home. Without support, they are often forced to beg, take on dangerous and low paid work, become sexually exploited or involved in crime. Their dreams of accessing education are unrealised. Instead, they can become so tangled up in their new life and behind in their schooling that they feel trapped – hunger and sickness are daily realities. These children’s lives are often shortened by their experience.
Tackling the causes of risky migrationCHADET works with children, parents and communities to try and break this cycle. They work with transport workers, police, social workers and community members to identify children on route to the city and persuade them to return home. They talk to the children and their parents and help them to work through the issues that forced them to leave, aiming to reunite the family. At the same time, they work with the family to improve their household income so they can better feed and educate all their children. Working with schools and communities, CHADET ensures that children and parents are aware of the reality of the hazards of life on the streets.
Helping girls to move from the streets and into work – through food!CHADET isn’t always able to reunite children with their families, so they also work with street children to provide them the vocational training and education. This enables them to move into safer and better paid jobs and move out of poverty. One of their projects provides girls with training in catering, child care and domestic work, at the same time increasing their life skills and building their confidence, so they can negotiate for better jobs in the future.
The work we do helps to reduce poverty and hunger for thousands of children. Though our five-day challenge is now over, we’re still raising money for our work.
Executive Director, ChildHope