Could you live on £5 for five days? This is the question thousands of people across the country will be asking themselves in May when they take up the challenge to Live Below the Line. It's a campaign that caught my imagination and hopefully yours too as it's quite a different type of charity challenge: It asks people across the UK, US, New Zealand and Australia to live on £1 a day for all food and drink for five days in May.
Why? You might well ask. Well, it's twofold; firstly to raise awareness about 1.4 billion people who live on this budget every day, for everything; so food, drink, education, transport, healthcare, the lot. Surviving on that budget is pretty incomprehensible for most of us which is why this is such a powerful campaign. If you take up the challenge from 7-11 May, you're getting a personal glimpse into the reality of living in extreme poverty and a life without the daily choices we all enjoy and so easily take for granted.
Secondly, Live Below the Line raises funds as people get sponsored for an inspiring range of international development charities, including Malaria No More UK, which I've supported since it launched three years ago.
I was instantly drawn to the charity's single-minded mission - to end deaths from malaria in Africa. Malaria claims the life of a child every minute, yet is is a preventable and treatable disease. The devastation of losing loved ones and those closest to you, to a disease that is easily treatable like malaria is something not many of us have to face in the UK, but in Africa people don't have the same choice. What's more, malaria stops people from going to work, caring for their families and children from going to school. The disease takes a financial toll too, costing families up to 25% of their annual income and in the end, malaria costs the African economy a staggering £8 billion a year in lost productivity.
I've not had the chance to visit Africa yet due to my tennis commitments, hopefully the time will come after my career, but in meantime it's encouraging to hear the positives coming out of the work that so many of us support - since launching, Malaria No More UK's partnerships in Ghana, Namibia and Botswana, are helping to protect over five million people from malaria. The charity is part of a global movement backing the goal of 'near zero' deaths from malaria by 2015. It's an impressive ambition and one which is seeing historic progress - malaria deaths in Africa have dropped by one third since 2000 with over 1.1 million children's lives already saved. That's quite an achievement and by taking part in Live Below the Line more lives can be saved and protected.
As an athlete, I'm used to my fair share of meal planning and strict diets and it's a bit of a pain to miss out on food you'd usually enjoy, I'm sure chocolate will top a few lists. I'll be competing in Europe, so although I physically can't take part, I'll be with you in spirit. I look forward to hearing the stories of the different menus concocted and more importantly funds raised to save lives from malaria and fight poverty.
I'm also donating a tennis package as a prize which will be won by the top Live Below the Line fundraiser who raises the most for Malaria No More UK. The package includes one of my signed racquets, a signed T-shirt and a pair of tickets to see me play at a match in the UK this summer. Check out the charity's website for more details.
Thanks for taking the time to read and good luck!
Sign up to Live Below the Line for Malaria No More UK.
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