This is the eighth year of the Two Dollar A Day Challenge (TDC) and I think its working. Every spring we come together to attempt a week on $2 a day and discuss what we do and don’t know about poverty. As it turns out, there is a lot we don’t know. It isn’t because we’re ignorant, but because we’re removed; almost half of the world’s population is living below the $2 poverty line, but most of us working a desk job or going to school don’t see it on an every day basis. Eventually, when we do get up and attempt to do something about it, we must be aware that we don’t fully understand the situation we’re stepping into. TDC is how we remind ourselves of that fact, and people have been listening.
This year almost twenty campuses are standing up to take the challenge from East coast to West coast. We are partnering with SIMA, RESULTS, and Oxfam America – a long way to come from just a few people sleeping on Ball Circle. This will be my fourth year participating in TDC and each year I’m always in awe of the scale of the problem outside our campus. Students everywhere are beginning to comprehend that college is a microcosm within larger issues.
In 2008 almost 80% of the Central African Republic’s population was recorded living below $2 a day, the global financial crisis occurred, and TDC took place for the first time at UMW.
In 2011 this year’s unsuspecting graduates stepped onto campus, the Arab spring began, and Pakistan hosted 710 refugees to every $1 of GDP per capita.
In 2015 global poverty rates are said to be declining, TDC sees its biggest year yet, and food production in Southern Asia is predicted to drop by 23%.
UMW is a buzz with activity and TDC is growing, but the world is still spinning. These aren’t meant to make us feel bad, rather they are an attempt to stir sensitivity for the vast economic inequality beyond our campus gates. Things are happening and we can help to make them better and more ethical. For this reason I’m happy to see TDC participants across the country, because it says ‘If we’re going to do something about this, let’s try to do it the best we can’.
Humbling and empathizing, come out and sit with us April 6th to April 10th. It’s been 8 years but we still have plenty to talk about.