Sunday, 24 November 2013

Israr Raja and the "9 Dirham Survival Challenge"

BFTF recently received a message from Israr Raja, a Lancastrian with a big heart and a warm smile, who is currently working in Al Ain, UAE .

It turns out that Israr, together with his friend and neighbour Nicolas Wavrin, have decided to raise awareness of how difficult life can be for many around the world by embarking on a "9 Dirham Survival Challenge"...

The Issue
Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day (approximately 9 dirham). There are 2.2 billion children in the world of which 1 billion are living in poverty.

The Challenge
Starting on "Universal Childrens Day" (20th November), the "9 dirham survival challenge’ is an experience to attempt to understand partly what life is like for people living in poverty in our world by living on 9 dirham a day for 30 days. It is important to remember that in reality most people are relying on this amount to cover all living costs and not just food. However, in the challenge the 9 dirham will cover food alone, no other living expenses included.

The aim is to raise awareness of issues of poverty around the world; to inspire young and old to join in this movement to become more mindful citizens and to support Dubai Cares in their work to make life easier for children in education across the world.

How you can follow
To keep up to date with how their challenge is going visit their blog :
http://www.9dirhamsurvivalchallenge.wordpress.com

How you can support
Why not try to survive for a few days on 9 Dirhams (about £1.50) per day? It would be great to hear how you get on and what your thought are. (BFTF will try to live on £1.50 a day for a week starting Monday 25th Nov).

You may wish to think about what structural problems are causing so many to live in such difficult circumstances (Trade barriers? Lack of a living wage? Government corruption? Something else?) and lobby to let those in power know how you feel.

You can donate at Israr's JustGiving page :
http://www.justgiving.com/9dirhamsurvivalchallenge
Proceeds go to Dubai Cares, a charity who work in countries as diverse as Haiti, Angola and Indonesia and run programs to improve access to primary education by focussing on four key components: School Infrastructure; School Health & Nutrition; Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) in Schools; and Quality of Education.

BFTF joins Israr for Day 6 of the Challenge
BFTF has decided to join Isar for a week of his "9 Dirham Challenge" which involves trying to survive on food that costs just 9 Dirhams (~£1.50) a day,

BFTF's food today was half a fruit loaf (~40p) nibble on during work and a plate of porridge and a little jam in the evening (~50p) Also had a few cups of tea at work, which BFTF is classing as "free" although for many people around the world, both beverages and water have a significant cost...

Porridge is something that BFTF has only very recently re-discovered, after being given a small sachet from a vegan co-worker. BFTF very quickly moved on from that to buying a packet of ASDA own brand porridge oats and is becoming an increasingly fervent fan of the food. Kids weren't impressed though....

Meanwhile, back at the 9 Dirham Challenge HQ, Israr seems to have cooked up a rather nice egg and potato curry - but will his money last out the week???

BFTF's Evening meal : Porridge with milk and a little strawberrry jam

BFTF joins Israr for Day 7 of the Challenge
BFTF has decided to join Isar for a week of his "9 Dirham Challenge" which involves trying to survive on food that costs just 9 Dirhams (~£1.50) a day,

Today, BFTF finished off the last few slices of his fruit loaf at work (~30p)...

The last slice of fruitloaf. . .

And had a tin of lentil soup (~55p) for lunch, adding some zing with a strong dash of Worcestershire Sauce, the king of condiments. Below is a picture of the tin, because lentil soup itself is not the most photogenic dish on God's earth. It was, however, very delicious...

Lentil Soup, suitable spiced up, is delicious, nutritious, low fat, and economical

And in the evening it was porridge, milk and jam again. Having run out of jam, BFTF needed to buy another jar, and wondered whether to go for the "Smart Price" jam at 29p a jar (containing 25g fruit per 100g jam) or the ordinary Asda own brand at 89p a jar (containing 35g of fruit per 100g jam). BFTF decided to go for the economy grade - which turned out to be more of a smooth paste, without any identifiable bits of fruit in it at all. Weird. Was expecting FEWER bits of fruit, but not none at all.

Smart Price at 29p or Ordinary Own Brand at 89p?

It is worth pointing out that, while BFTF has at least a fighting chance of eating on £1.50 a day, this wage often has to cover all living expenses, including those of dependents.

If BFTF had to find travel expenses, or fuel expenses, or feed a dependent, or pay rent from that £1.50 a day he would be TOAST - and that is the scary part.

Meanwhile, back at the 9 Dirham Challenge HQ, today sees Israr only having enough money for a little yogurt and little milk. But at least this is the last day of the week, so some more money coming in tomorrow.

Of course, Israr is (hopefully) in the position of being able to rely on being paid on time. Many workers aren't so lucky.

BFTF joins Israr for Day 8 of the Challenge
BFTF has decided to join Isar for a week of his "9 Dirham Challenge" which involves trying to survive on food that costs just 9 Dirhams (~£1.50) a day,

This seems to have caught the imagination of co-workers, with a number asking how the callenge is going whether BFTF has corralled the rest of the family into taking part (he hasn't) and what the "rules" are (can BFTF eat roadkill? (no), what about leftover sandwitches from meetings (no) or food from dustbins (no thanks).

Anyway, todays intake consisted of a few slices of fruitloaf during the morning (~20p), a bowl of mushroom soup and Worcestershire sauce at lunchtime (~50p) and then, in the evening, cooked a proper hot meal of new potatoes in a chunky tomato sauce (~70p).

It was a pretty hearty meal, to the extect that Mrs BFTF was surprised that it had not broken the daily budget. BFTF tried to save energy by not using energy by not spending valuable cooking gas frying some onions first. Somewhat to ones surprise, the result was still rather delicious! The issue of energy costs, and the fuel poverty of people who cannot afford the energy to cook food or heat their homes, is a serious one that BFTF hopes to talk about more in future posts

Oh, and ought to confess that BFTF also had a small piece of chocolate brownie and a quaver (not a packet of Quavers, just a single Quaver from a packet that No3 son was eating).
Mushroom Soup with a little Worcestershire Sauce
Should perhaps have done something clever
to make a nice pattern of sauce on the surface...

Meanwhile, back at the 9 Dirham Challenge HQ, Israr has shown more evidence of his good-egginess by revealing that he likes Creamed Rice Pudding and Chip Butties. He has also been featured in the Lancashire Media !

As we used to say in the 80s, Raaas!

BFTF joins Israr for Day 9 of the Challenge
BFTF has decided to join Isar for a week of his "9 Dirham Challenge" which involves trying to survive on food that costs just 9 Dirhams (~£1.50) a day,

It seems that BFTF is rather a creature of simple tastes, and was happy to go with exactly the same food as yesterday, the only difference being lentil instead of mushroom soup at lunchtime!

Somewhat to his surprise, BFTF was easily able to ignore the delicious looking meat and aubergine curry that the rest of the family was eating in the evening, and instead cook up another simple potato and tomato dish.

Potato and tomato curry - 20mins start to finish

On a related note, in 2005, Nelson Mandela addressed 22,00 people in Trafalgar Square, London as part of the "Make Poverty History" campaign. In this speech he commented that :
"Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life."

When we shop for groceries, or indeed any item, we are making choices about what we value. You can read about some of these choices in this post entitled "What do we mean by 'best'?".

And if we value justice for workers we need to make sure that message gets throught to the supplier. For example, this story looks at how BFTF tried to get Halfords to say whether they paid a living wage to the Cambodians who manufacture Halfords bikes in that country.

Why don't you, dear reader, challenge a supplier of something you have bought recently on whether they pay their workers a living wage (which can be a very different thing to the minimum wage).

Meanwhile, back at the 9 Dirham Challenge HQ, Israr has been thinking about how desperation might send a person to eating waste food and has prepared a cool chana chaat for his evening meal

BFTF joins Israr for Day 10 of the Challenge
BFTF has decided to join Isar for a week of his "9 Dirham Challenge" which involves trying to survive on food that costs just 9 Dirhams (~£1.50) a day,

While the day went routinely enough, with some fruit loaf and soup (and a handful of chips at a colleagues leaving do), the evening meal was something of a taste sensation. BFTF hijacked some of the plain boiled rice that Mrs BFTF had made, and stir fried it with a small tin of sardines and some diced tomato.

Wow! That recipe is a keeper !

Easy Rice and Sardines

Worth mentioning that one cause of poverty in coastal communities that rely on fishing is the reduction of fish stocks around the world. Sometimes this is caused by overfishing by the communities themselves (perhaps by the introduction of new techniques such as dynamite fishing) while sometimes it is due to large international trawlers hoovering up the local fish stocks, leaving nothing for the communities in the area.

When you buy fish, you are making a decision about whether you want to support fishing techniques that are sustainable, or fishing techniques that aren't. BFTF recommends that, especially when buying Tuna, Cod and Mackeral, you look for the MSC logo as this ensures that the fish is sustainable caught. Some examples here, and here.

If you are living in parts of the world where the MSC logo is rare, ask about the sustainability of the fish you are thinking of buying.

And lastly, check out this project on sustainable fishing by IFEES

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

Meanwhile, back at the 9 Dirham Challenge HQ, Israr has had a rather alliterative evening meal of Pasta in the Park with the added excitement of nearly causing a nasty head injury to a bystander. Lancastrians eh? You just can't take them anywhere can you?

BFTF joins Israr for Day 11 of the Challenge
BFTF has decided to join Isar for a week of his "9 Dirham Challenge" which involves trying to survive on food that costs just 9 Dirhams (~£1.50) a day,

Todays food began with a hearty bowl of porridge and jam and was followed later in the day by cheese toasties. Mmmmnnnn

This mornings, slightly untidy, bowl of porridge and jam

BFTF also made the "Rice and Sardines" dish for Mrs BFTF who said it was tasty but that BFTF needed to go easier on the black pepper (BFTF likes black pepper a lot).

Meanwhile, back at the 9 Dirham Challenge HQ, Israr had a vegetable curry and also linked to the article about the 9 Dirham Survival Challenge that has appeared in "The Source", a widely read UAE magazine. You can read it too, but getting all clicky here.

BFTF joins Israr for Day 12 of the Challenge
BFTF has decided to join Isar for a week of his "9 Dirham Challenge" which involves trying to survive on food that costs just 9 Dirhams (~£1.50) a day,

Today is the last of the seven that BFTF committed to undertaking in support of Israr's challenge.

It has been a fascinating journey and BFTF hopes that he can continue to stick to the £1.50 per day target, albeing perhaps not quite so evangelically.

BFTF wishes Israr all the best for the rest of his month, and hopes to keep tabs on his progress.

Israr, its been emotional!

No comments:

Post a Comment