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Could You Live On One Dollar a Day?
By Emily Simon
The other night I was perusing the “Recently Added” genre of the greatest provider of On-Demand media and entertainment, Netflix. This is a luxury most of us Americans tend to take for granted. I didn’t know quite what I was in the mood for, but I did know I wanted to watch something I had never seen before. I stumbled upon a documentary titled Living on One Dollar. I decided to indulge my curiosity, and sat through the 56-minute documentary on my comfy sectional couch in my warm and cozy home. What I never expected was to be so moved and affected by the time the credits started to roll.
The documentary chronicles the journey of four college friends who travel to a rural part of Guatemala and completely emerge themselves in the native’s everyday lifestyle. This means for two months, these four boys live on one dollar each a day. At the very beginning of their documentary, the boys are healthy, well-nourished, and optimistic about their endeavor. It isn’t until week two that reality hits them like a bucket of ice water, and they are struggling to save enough money to feed themselves on a day-to-day basis.
They confront a hunger like they have never felt before, extreme financial stress, and even parasites lurking in their intestinal tracts. They lack the money to even pay for the necessary medications they need: a struggle the natives feel every day. This is a life most people in America are sheltered from in our comfortable homes that are strapped with the latest amenities, such as smart fridges and air conditioning. Yes, on occasion we are caught by surprise when a depressing commercial comes across our TV screens showcasing the poor conditions in third-world countries. They urge us to donate to help these people who are less fortunate than us, and some of us are guilt-ridden enough that we do.
However, what happens after we type those credit card numbers and receive an email confirmation with the details of the donation we made out of pity? We go back to our daily lives filled with our endless luxuries and silly struggles. We forget that there are other human beings that continue to exist outside of our well-protected and comfy bubble of life. These other human beings are the people in Guatemala that those four boys met on a daily basis. They are people who give up their life dreams, and struggle to scrape together enough money to feed their children and families.
This documentary opens us up to a world where you do not get to choose what you want to do with your life. Children have to drop out of school in the sixth grade to help farm and earn money for their families. The children grow into adults with unfulfilled dreams and wishes. The difference between them and us is that we have the opportunity to follow our life goals while they do not. These people need more than just our sympathy donations. They need medicine, food, a reliable shelter, education, and most importantly the opportunity to pursue the lives and careers they were never able to.
Living on One Dollar made me painfully aware of the situations people live in outside of my own little bubble. It is estimated that about 1.3 billion people in the world live off of less than $1.25 a day. These are people who might need some help and a little more than just a donation. However, some of us do not necessarily have the resources to help these people with anything more than a donation online or through the phone. We do what we can with what we have to offer, but my challenge to you is to not be so shortsighted to the other things going on around in our world. People like you and me face different struggles and obstacles. You might feel as if you are having the worst day in the history of bad days sometimes, but just remember there are others out there fighting to survive with less than a dollar a day.
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