Next week, the Live Below The Line campaign hopes many more will follow in Mandy George’s footsteps to raise awareness of the 1.2 billion people who are estimated to live on less than £1 per day (the World Bank’s definition of extreme poverty).  Those sponsored to live for just a pound per day for five days will raise much needed funds for charities fighting poverty, including Malaria No More UK. The charity is dedicated to saving lives from malaria — a disease which is a leading cause of poverty in Africa, costing the continent over £8 billion a year.

American-born Londoner Mandy George took on the challenge a month before the rest of country to test-run the experience for Malaria No More UK. She very nearly died of malaria two years ago when, as an aid worker in Haiti, she was so sick she needed to be airlifted to the Dominican Republic for emergency treatment. “If I’d lived in the village where I contracted malaria I’d be dead, no doubt about it,” she says.

I was fortunate enough to have medical evacuation on my insurance and so I survived

“I was fortunate enough to have medical evacuation on my insurance and so I survived. All my organs shut down. I was in an induced coma in intensive care for a month and then needed another month of treatment and recovery. “It made me realise how lucky I was to be alive and so I wanted to do something to help those less fortunate.”

Cheap meals
Luckily for Mandy she had her brother’s birthday meal the day after her five day trial to look forward to but, even then, it was pretty tough but ultimately more achievable than you might imagine.

“All I could think about all week was what I was going to eat at my brother’s birthday because you just don’t think about food until you have to make some very conscious decisions to go without,” she says. “I teamed up with a friend so we had £10 between us. We had to do some research beforehand to find the cheapest supermarkets but it’s actually quite incredible what you can pick up. We went for staples such as pasta rice and lentils, with carrots, onions and broccoli and a box of eggs, plus a tin of tomatoes and beans.  I have to say, I craved treats all week. Not snacking on a biscuit or a bit of chocolate here and there is so tough, and I definitely missed not having a glass of wine.”

For those considering taking the challenge, Mandy definitely advises going for it because there is no better way to raise money for charity and, at the same time, empathise with those living in extreme poverty.