Living on $1.50 a Day

By Chris Lechuga
Posted: 11/02/11

For many people in the world who live in extreme poverty, simple tasks like shopping for groceries and medicine are a near impossibility. Many families are forced to ration out their food, money and resources in order to survive.  These common cases are what members of one student organization at The University of Texas at El Paso advocated for when they experienced the same harsh conditions.

The UTEP chapter of ONE, an international grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, participated in the group's campus challenge to have members live on $1.50 per day. The event made members more aware of how some people in the world live.

"We decided to live on ($1.50) not just in terms of food, but in every single area," said Maegan Ramirez, senior political science major and president of the UTEP ONE chapter.

The group of 15 students agreed to take on the weeklong challenge and received clearance to camp out at the University Honors House during the event since the cost of gasoline they would use in transportation would make up more than the allotted $1.50. The members pooled their money together and went grocery shopping to feed the entire group for the week.

"We ended up with a ton of Raman, loaf of bread, apples, beans and rice," Maegan Ramirez said.

Terri Ramirez, coordinator of the University Honors Program and advisor for the ONE chapter, helped the students as they planned and executed the challenge in late October. She witnessed the impact the challenge had on the members as they began to better understand the reality in which some people in underdeveloped nations live in every day.

"I think it was a very successful event on so many different levels," said Terri Ramirez. "They realized that so much of what they have on a daily basis, they take for granted."

As a result of the challenge, several members of the ONE chapter at UTEP have been invited by the international organization to visit Washington, D.C. in December to further advocate for the cause by attending White House briefings and lobbying on Capitol Hill to gain support from Congress.

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