I grew up in a farm, in the heart of Tuscany. For the first 2 decades of my life I did not know any better, or any worse. Life was good, food was always on the table and its quality was superb at any given meal; that’s just the way it was. I was extremely spoiled, just did not know it yet.
Eventually I started traveling as a musician: Brazil, Cuba, Africa, the Middle East and most of Europe. It appeared clear to me very soon that in many of the countries I visited people perceived me as a privileged human being. That did not necessarily carried a bad connotation with it, it just altered slightly the way that ordinary people interacted with me; for many kids I have met while on the road, a single dollar out of my pocket always meant much more that I ever thought possible. And while I do agree that in a few instances (ex. Cuba) the politics of a country are solely responsible for its isolation and the scarcity of resources, I also have to say that to me it has always been more shocking encountering poverty in our “more” developed nations (ex. Brazil and U.S.) where modern society has layered social classes on top of each other in a way that an extremely wide spectrum of living-wages are represented in each and every city.
Our family does not fall in the 1% isle. We are hard middle class workers that for the most part are able to get by and can afford one short vacation every year. We were ready to move back to Tuscany in 2008 when it “Hit The Fan”; we sold our house in L.A. and started making a serious plan for a trans continental move. Incredibly Extra Virgin came to the rescue (talk about timing), and here we still are; over a decade in Los Angeles, and now in BrooklynTown NY. In our continuos pilgrimage of rental homes we have lived in different neighborhoods, we have met many people and observed how much more than ever these days poverty is literally in front of us. It might not be extreme poverty all the times, but the cost of life and the lack of resources for many in our society have shaped an unexpected landscape even in our modern cities.
Or maybe it is just a matter of perception. It all always existed! Now that I am getting older, now that I am married and feel incredibly responsible for the well being of the people I love, only now my eyes are finally wide open. My 7 yrs old daughter a few days ago was digging into the pantry while I was waiting by the front door with her jacket in my hands, late on our way to school. “Hurry up, don’t worry about your snack, I already put everything in your backpack!”. She came running with a pear and a small energy bar in her hands: “This is not for me, this is for a friend. She is always hungry and I want to share my food with her.” From that day on I started buying a bit more snacks to facilitate Giulia in her effort to enjoy lunch at school with her girlfriends.
Food has changed our lives forever. And while we grow in our endeavors, we embrace the opportunity to engage in a conversation about all those people that unfortunately are not able to share like us, on a daily basis, those things that we regard as a given in modern society: food, clean water, shelter, education, medical needs… everything!
When a few weeks ago Debi and I were asked if we were interested in knowing more about the Live Below The Line Project and possibly participating in their campaign we could not be more thrilled. We decided to participate as a family, as a necessary experience for the four of us and I have to say, our daughters are actually excited and a bit scared about the prospected menu of beans, rice, leftovers and whatever else our very small budget will allow for the whole week.
We will be posting on our blog daily, we will host live video chats is collaboration with HuffPostLive, and we will share our experience on all our social media channels.
Join us the week of April 29th to May 3rd if you can and help us raise awareness about this cause. Visit the Below The Line official website to know how to participate.
The challenge? Spend 5 days feeding yourself with $1.50 a day – the U.S. equivalent of the extreme poverty line. We are a family of 4, so our weekly budget will be $30 for 5 days of meals.
The reason? To give a glimpse into the lives of 1.4 billion people who have no choice but to live below the line every day – and who have to make $1.50 cover a lot more than food…
“Live Below the Line is an initiative of the Global Poverty Project, an education and campaigning organization whose mission is to increase the number and effectiveness of people taking action against extreme poverty. The Global Poverty Project educates and activates citizens to become effectively engaged in the movement to end extreme poverty, and is best known for its world-class multimedia presentation 1.4 Billion Reasons. This feature presentation has been seen by over 100,000 people since 2009 and is delivered in schools, businesses and communities around the globe.”