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Day 1- Wednesday
The day starts early morning, but I have to budget first, to make sure I limit myself to $4 for the whole day. I listed the essentials of the day which was food and transport to work. The cost of living is high therefore finding a meal to eat thrice in a day is essential or at least twice. In the morning I ate a quarter of the white loaf of bread left for school. Since the full bread costs around $2.76, the quarter will cost me $0.69. I carried 1litre of drinking water to school. The cost of 1 liter of water is $1.20. I was driven to work which cost $0.50. During lunch eating at the cafeteria would cost a lot more than I wanted to spend, so I just ate two bananas costing $0.51 and drunk the water throughout the day. I returned home on foot hence saved on the $0.50 which I spent on supper. At dinner, we ate a whole sum meal, but it fitted the remaining $1.10. I did not shower in the evening as I usually do.
The whole day has been about minimizing everything in my life. One of the main challenges has been trying to reduce the amount of food I eat because normally not even one meal fits into the $4.00 budget. Today it did due to the calculation of everything I ate or did. I limited my interaction with friends as they would influence me into spending and which was not an easy task. The other thing was restraining myself from using the phone. It was tough not chatting with my friends while the phone is there. It is quite tempting. As at getting to bed, I do feel like my stomach is a bit empty due to the limited amount of food I ate. I hope I will get some sleep to get me through the few hours I will be sleeping.
Day 2- Thursday
Thursday started very early as I had decided to wake up early. The empty stomach also contributed the early rising. I did sleep for some few hours, but my stomach woke me up a little sooner. To make the poverty challenge even more real, I did not take a shower, so I dressed up and had my breakfast. Due to hunger pangs, I was feeling; I decided to eat the quarter bread and two bananas at the same time. I carried my one liter of water to work and walked all the way to avoid spending. I had also decided that I would not bring my phone to school to avoid any temptation to use it. During lunchtime, as the rest of the class was eating I spent my time going through some of the assignments I gave my class yesterday to pass the time as I did not have anything to eat. I only drunk water through the entire time. In the evening I walked back home. By evening, I had only spent $2.40 which was a bit lower than Wednesday’s $2.90. The remaining amount would get me substantial meal compared to Wednesday.
The day started with a delicate moment where I could not be able to stomach my hunger pangs in bed anymore. Despite having eaten a substantial breakfast, it could not be enough to keep my stomach full the whole day since I had to bear with my rumbling stomach at a certain point in the day. The situation was embarrassing especially since it happened immediately when the children in my class had resumed from lunch. A thought had occurred to me to quit and just be grateful for the life I have but remembered there I someone who lives that kind of life, and they do not have an option of quitting, it is their life. By the time I arrived at home from work, I felt so exhausted and just wanted to eat and sleep. Due to exhaustion, I could not go to sleep the way I was without showering a whole two days, so I showered just before we ate dinner. Missing on showers had made me self-cautions all through the day, and I could not take it especially going to dinner with everyone on the table. It would be quite uncomfortable for everyone in the family especially because I did sweat on my way home from work. As much as I want to make the poverty challenge real, going for days without shower will mean affecting people around me due to the bad odor.
Day 3- Friday
Today I wasn’t woken up by my stomach since I ate yesternight enough. Although I walked for a long distance, showering and sleeping earlier helped. I woke up fresh, but I had to wear the same clothes I had worn for the three days as homeless people do not get the luxury of washing their clothes on a daily basis or having a change of clothes. I decided to adopt the same eating plan as for Thursday’s as I was quite comfortable during the day only a few stomach rumbles at lunchtime and a mild headache on my way home. I walked to school and back, which was also tiresome but I was not going to shower today. I ate a quarter bread, two bananas and carried one liter of water.
The challenge has made me adopt a new way of running things. One was minimizing the amount of food I ate to necessity; the other is by secluding myself from a huge circle of friends and colleagues, this is because, with a large number of friends, you find yourself being influenced to do things that will most probably result in spending money. Secluding myself is helping, but I feel like by the end of the challenge I will have lost a lot of friends because I seem to brush them off whenever they ask me to join them. I did not carry my phone today too, and I found some calls I wasn’t there to receive and unanswered text messages. My friend left a voice message, and she sounded quite worried about me because I never miss calls. I had to call her and assure her everything was okay. I also told her about the poverty challenge, and she understood the whole situation. I feel the challenge is too much and cannot be compared to things like being on a diet. It is very tasking. Today I had a mild headache during the day, and it could be attributed to long hours without eating. I took a painkiller to cool it down. I feel like giving up, but I think I am already halfway, so I will take one day after the other as it comes.
Day 4- Saturday
Just like Thursday, I woke up feeling hungry, so the first thing I did was eating breakfast. I was not planning to go anywhere, so I was going to stay in and do things like laundry and clean the house. My breakfast was the same as usual. A quarter bread and two bananas and by lunchtime I was already hungry. I could not be able to stay without eating especially because most of my family members were in so I ate lunch with the rest of them. After lunch, we were to go to the mall, but I opted to stay home and sleep since I had woken up early. I slept through most of the time until I got tired then I went for a walk. At dinner time I was already feeling hungry, so I ate. The day cost me more than $4.00 because I was unable to hold my hunger pangs at lunchtime.
It was a tough day because I succumbed to eating until I spent all my $4.00 limit. I can only attribute this to staying at home with my family who did not understand the essence of the challenge. I tried to resist food, but my mom insisted that I should eat since the food is already available. She challenged my stand by saying that instead of trying to live on the level of poor people I should try and find ways of improving their lives since I am in a better position to do so. We had a huge debate on this, but I finally gave in by eating the lunch. Denying myself the opportunity to go with the rest of the family to the mall was a tough decision. I also had difficulty in keeping myself from watching when they were gone, so the only solution was sleeping or walking outside which I did after I was tired of sleeping. I also know if I continued to sleep, I will lack sleep at night which would make the night long. With so much free time on the table, I found myself thinking so much about my life the future I want for myself and what I can do presently to stop wasting so much time on unimportant things like social media.
Day 5- Sunday
I slept soundly throughout the night and only woke up when my alarm rang. Today I was ready to correct my slips and just go throughout the day without any slips. I ate the bread and two bananas, dressed up and went to church without showering and by foot. After service, I went back home by foot to where I went through my teaching materials as I read through various books. I just drunk water the entire time. I also slept for 2 hours during the day. By the time it was supper, my stomach was rumbling loudly due to hunger. We finally ate, and I went to sleep. I had achieved going through the entire day within the $4.00 limit.
Being the last day of the challenge, I wanted to finish with a win. I did not want to be left with the guilt that I had felt on Saturday for failing to control myself. The challenge was to educate oneself on how one living in poverty feels, but it felt more of a personal challenge especially on testing my resilience. Due to lack of things like phones, televisions and the luxurious items, one has a lot of time, and most of it is used for conversations with people, and when you do not have people to talk to or the energy to talk due to hunger, one spends it on thoughts. In my understanding, this could be one of the reasons why people living in poverty may be depressed or use their money on things like alcohol which act as antidepressants. I also got to understand that they go through a lot of suffering as they are and it is very unfair that people treat them the way they do as they have done nothing to be poor. The poor need love and support from the rest of the world as they already go through a lot every day. The only way they make their life easier is by showing them love and not discriminating them due to their current state.
My expectations when going into the challenge.
Limiting my life to $4.00 per day was a task that seemed to be impossible. I did not expect to make it work especially because people surround me. I was expecting to fail at it because with the economic situation today the cost of living is very high. I found out that it would be possible even if it meant skipping out on a meal and deny yourself a lot of things. It is only through prioritizing that living in $4.00 a day is possible.
Inconveniences and uncomfortableness of the experience
One of the main difficulty I had was waking up in the middle of the night or very early because I was hungry. It is something I never experience on regular days. The other thing was secluding myself for my friends, colleagues, and my family. I was doing this to avoid the temptation of spending and also because most of the time I was not showering. The later made me self-conscience because I would not want to be in a situation where I made the people around me uncomfortable due to my body odor. The other one is where I had to walk all the way to and from work. It is not something I am used to hence I got tired by the time I got home. The other one was having to spend most of the time hungry. Food was one of the main issues in the whole experience as I had to skip lunch so that I could have a substantial amount of money to be able to afford a decent meal at night. Lastly, having to spend the time alone without my phone was very uncomfortable. Usually, I could stay comfortably alone but with the phone since a can chat with my friends. Shunning myself away from my friends without phone calls and text messages made the whole situation uncomfortable and lonely.
Life from the perspective of a poor person.
Comparison of my experience with someone who is poor.
My situation was bearable because I knew that I am not poor and I know the situation will be ending in just a few days. It is challenging for someone who lives in it for entire of his/her life. The reason I kept going is the fact that I knew that it would only last for five days. Anyone who lives through that on an average basis and does not have an escape from it is strong. He/she does not deserve the discrimination they get. The poor people need to be shown love and support for them to emerge as psychologically stable people. The situation was depressing for me, and it only lasted five days, one cannot get a clear understanding of how these people survive, and only God takes them through every single day.
How I spent the money.
I spent the entire $4 on food. The economy of our country makes it impossible for someone to save anything especially if you are living under the poverty cut. Even when spending the entire amount on food, it is still not enough to satisfy you completely even for a single day. The quality of food one eats is not nutritious, and if one eats the meal for a long time, he/she may become susceptible to diseases due to lack of vital nutrients in the body.
Spending money wisely
The question of whether the money was spent wisely is not easy to answer. I put my health first, therefore, spent everything on food. Spending money wisely means spending it on the things necessary and save. I spent all my money but was unable to save because there was nothing to save. I tried to find the cheapest things I can survive on with the little budget. Therefore, I did spend it wisely.
The reaction of others and the impact it had on me.
How people treated me
There was a lot of pity in the eyes of those close to me. One of them was my mom who did not see the essence of the whole situation. She could not wait for the 5-day challenge to end. Her constant challenge on the importance of the challenge, made me eat lunch on Saturday yet I was not supposed to eat. Walking to and from work made some of my friends question the financial situation I was in. It did not affect me since the challenge was personal and not related to the real situation.
Things learned about poverty and how they affected me.
One of the thing that is clear is that the poor do not like being in the situation they experience. Being poor is not a choice, and the situation is terrible. One would do anything to get out of it. From this, I learned that being kind to anyone poor does not cost anything it only gives the poor hope that there is someone who could afford to smile back at them and support them in this life. I had the belief that the poor are the way they are because they do not want to change but from this experience, I learned that nobody wants to be in that situation. In fact, they want to change, but the resources are limited especially if you earn and spend all of it and nothing to spare.
A comparison of my findings to those of Mike Yankosi.
Mike’s findings were more comprehensive on the treatment of the poor than mine because he went deep into living with the poor. My situation was personal; I was only observing the difficulties I had when trying to adapt to the situation. I had my family around me. Therefore, I did not live in poverty and experiences it firsthand like Mike. It was more of an experiment than the real-life situation. What both of the situations brought to light is the fact that no poor person wants to remain poor. However, the situation does not allow them to be free of the poverty. It is a difficult situation, and the only way one gets through that is by having a strong circle of friends and family to share the burden.
How poverty influences one’s self-image, attitude and social function.
Poverty lowers an individual’s self-confidence. One of the reasons for this being the fact that one does not get the privilege to dress properly and fit in with the rest of the society. As a result, one may decide to seclude him/herself from the remainder of the world just to feel comfortable. Self-seclusion affects relationships with other people hence one lives a lonely life. The situation is not just physical but also affects the mental health of the individual, with very few people to interact with the person may end up being depressed hence the poor quality of life. As a result of lacking some of the things others in the society have, one may question their existence in the world.
How my experience impacted on my self-image, attitude and social function.
I secluded myself from the rest of my friends as one step. The reason why I took this step is that I was self-cautious due to not showering and wearing the same clothes for more than two days. To make matters worse, I am a lady, and I went all through with no make-up which to some extent helps with self-confidence. I was cranky all the time and easily irritable especially when I got hungry and as a result ruining any interactions with people around me.
How to be open-handed to the poor.
Being poor is not a choice hence one of the ways we can be open-handed is by assisting the poor. We can be of help to them by sharing the resources we have like food, clothes and if possible shelter. The basic needs are important, and if a poor person gets assistance from those who have them, they can be able to improve themselves. Another way of doing this is by showing love to them despite their situation. Most people ignore the poor or the homeless, but just a warm smile could make a difference in the person’s day.
Impact of the assignment.
From this assignment, I have learned not to take anything in life for granted. There are those people born in poverty and they have grown to become successful like Liz Murray. God gives everything, and it is not only for me but the poor around me. God has given me whatever I have to serve Him through touching the lives of the poor around me. Through the assignment, I have learned the need to be kind to the poor as it makes their life easy.
Recommendation for future classes.
I would recommend the experience to future classes. One of the reasons for this is because through the experience one can learn about the poor first hand. It is one thing to be told and the other to experience it in your life. Experiencing it gives one exposure to something if taught one would not take it seriously.
Changes in the experience
The instructions to this experience are quite clear, and I would not like anything to change. The situation was easy to learn as the budget was tight and one had to make sound decisions to fit their needs to the budget.
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