School children tackle poverty

23:07, Nov 21 2013
ross intermediate
LIVING BELOW THE LINE: Six kids from Ross Intermediate are doing living on $2.25 a day for five days to change the way Kiwis think about extreme poverty. From left to right: Niamh May, Jariek Bailey, Josh Darke, Bryn Corr, Brooke Mehlhopt and Isaac Chan up front eating his noodles.

Palmerston North children tackling the issue of poverty with their stomachs are each getting by on less than $3 for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Six Ross Intermediate School pupils have this week forfeited their chippies and sandwiches to live below the poverty line, on $2.25 a day.

Isaac Chan, 12, said the idea was born from their teacher whose friend was taking part in the International Live Below the Line awareness campaign.

"We were doing poverty in reading and one of the tasks was to research," he said.

"We thought that sounds cool and sounds like a challenge."

Josh Darke, 13, said it was different going from a hearty breakfast, packed lunch and dinner to noodles, one banana, and corn and rice.


"You feel hungry all the time even though you're not," he said. "You're just used to eating frequently."

Jariek Bailey, 13, said the food was fine, but nothing to look forward to.

"I'm starting to get really sick of rice," he said. "The hardest part is watching everyone else eat."

Isaac said while it was a challenge to keep his diet to $2.25 a day, he and his peers were learning about poverty.

"We are only doing it for five days and there are homeless people that have to do it for their whole lives," he said. "They have to plan out their lives and we're used to getting whatever we want, when we want."

Teacher Liam Rutherford said he was proud of the pupils who spent last week designing menus and this week blogging about their experiences.

"For reading we were looking at an article about a guy who was offering low-interest loans to poor people in Third World countries," he said. "As a result they had to ask questions around connections they had made to that story, and they started looking at all these things about why people were poor and whether or not it was their fault."

Mr Rutherford said the school got in touch with their parents, who were happy for the students to participate.

"It shows that at their age they can be critical thinkers in regard to looking outside their worldview to look to how other people live their lives and how privileged their lives are," he said.

Manawatu Standard