Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Archive for the tag “LUTL”

13 Million Reasons To Do Social Justice

Did Live Under The Line challenge or change the way you live in anyway? Eulogi Rheeder shares how living on R10 a day opened her eyes to the individuals behind the statistics.

A snapshot of Eulogi's groceries for the three day challenge

A snapshot of Eulogi’s groceries for the three day challenge

I’ve done Live Under The Line (LUTL) every year, but my hunger pangs always got the better of me and I usually gave up before the end of day one. This year, however, I was determined to complete the challenge or, at the very least, make it to the end of day two.

As I set out on the first day of the LUTL challenge, 9 September 2013, I asked God to freshly stir my heart for social justice in our City. Instead, He opened my eyes and gave me 13 million reasons to take Live Under The Line beyond the three days. Here’s my story…

Last year, my small group visited The Haven Night Shelter in Woodstock; our aim was to spend time and bless those who are vulnerable, in need and away from their loved ones. On the first night I met Diane*. She had come to South Africa from Malawi in the hope of creating a better life here. Instead, she found herself homeless, unemployed and at the mercy of others. I was touched by her story of bravery and her love for Christ, and how she didn’t allow her circumstances to dictate her zest for life.

My small group continued to visit the shelter every couple months and my friendship with Diane grew; she also started coming with us to Common Ground Innercity.

But soon enough ‘normal’ life – work, family, friends, church and other responsibilities – took over. And my friendship with Diane became secondary to the ‘more important’ stuff in my life. I would see her at church on Sundays and SMS her every other week, but my contact with her had become a social justice act without Jesus at the heart. In short, it was nothing more than just another task.

Fast forward to Wednesday, 11 September 2013, the final day of Live Under The Line. I had made it and was just a few hours away from finishing the challenge. Many of us were talking about what we would eat once we are allowed to break the R10 a day bank: Big Macs, a Vida cappuccino, a bacon croissant, Speckled Eggs… the list went on and on. As I was excitedly thinking about what I was most looking forward to eating again, Diane’s face popped up in my mind.

Although my heart had made the connection that Live Under the Line was recognising and identifying with how 13 million South African’s live every day, my eyes were starting to see the faces, stories, hopes and hurt behind the statistic – it was people like Diane.

Suddenly LUTL was no longer about the food, the money and the hard-hitting stat, but about the people; the 13 million individuals. This thought challenged me to think, how was I going to take LUTL with me into the rest of the year? How was I going to live social justice with the heart of Jesus for the other 362 days?

In John 13:34, Jesus instructs us to love one another just as He loved us. When I read this scripture on the afternoon of 11 September, I knew that this is how I (and you) can take Live Under The Line with me (us) every day: if I truly loved Diane, like Jesus loved me, she would be my friend; we’d have a real relationship; and Diane wouldn’t be just another tick on my social justice to-do list.

So, in the month since LUTL, I’ve freshly approached my friendship with Diane, based on John 13:34. We visit each other at our homes, we’ve gone for picnics and braais, and we encourage each other with scriptures. She’s told me about growing up in Malawi and I’ve shared stories from my teen years. I’m now purposefully spending time with her; not because I feel this is what I need to do, but because I’ve gotten to know Diane, and truly love her and call her my friend.

Diane and I come from very different backgrounds and very different circumstances, yet we meet each other in the middle because we love each other like Jesus loves us.

LUTL has not only allowed me to look at social justice with fresh eyes, but also challenged me that it’s not about what I do for social justice, but about how I do it.

So, how are you doing social justice?

*Name has been changed

– Eulogi is the communications manager at Common Good and a member of the Common Ground Church InnerCity congregation.

P.S. Some more LUTL feedback and reflections: “Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow” and “Have You Heard Of LUTLing?

“Very tough and extremely humbling”

Here’s what three Common Grounders had to say after living on R10 a day for food for three days as part of the Live Under The Line challenge…

23384_10151376398550219_1919569962_n“Sitting and watching others eat amazing dishes was absolute torture, but it did make me realise how many people living so close to me are going to bed hungry – how many children in our city are going without dinner and how many parents are going without food to make sure that their children have at least something in their tummies. It can be so overwhelming to think about all the hardship around us, but I’ve learned that even the smallest input, whether it’s my time, money, resources or prayers, can help to make a difference. This challenge is one that will continue to change and shape the way I view my life and the lives of others. It was hard but I would sign up right now to do it again next year because I believe it’s a lesson that we should be teaching ourselves over and over again.” – Jocelyn Bartosch

943304_10152978569880720_1950582601_n“This year was the first time I attempted to Live Under The Line and to be honest I found it very tough and extremely humbling. I work in the construction industry and saw that what I ate over the last few days was pretty much the norm for many of my colleagues who are manual labourers. This hit home hard as I do no manual labour and I was struggling from the lack of nourishment. I had no energy, I was hungry and I had a headache. My colleagues who do manual labour all day never complain about feeling tired or hungry or having a headache. What was even more humbling was the fact that at any time I could just simply throw in the towel, walk across the street and buy myself something to eat and drink. This however is not an option for my colleagues or for 13 000 000 South Africans.This challenge has made me realise exactly how much God has blessed me and has challenged me to get more involved with social upliftment programmes.” – Brad van der Westhuizen

17101_10152169117095212_1164264679_n“The LUTL challenge has had a huge impact on my life. It’s helped me understand what the majority of our country goes through on a daily basis and the kinds of struggles they experience. Suddenly, when you are trying to work out the problem of how best to spend the little money you have, the smaller, selfish, insignificant struggles fall away showing you what’s really important. Instead of thinking with your mind about an issue, you get to feel it with your tummy. It’s amazing how that can affect one’s decisions. It’s definitely changed my outlook on poverty and it’s made it more real for me as opposed to it just being an issue we have to put up with.” – Samantha Tobias

What was your experience of LUTL like?

P.S. Other great LUTL reads: “My Live Under The Line Diary” by Phil Olckers and “What It Felt Like To Be Homeless” by Richard Bolland

My Live Under The Line Diary

The final day of the Live Under The Line challenge is drawing to a close, but as many of us contemplate our first ‘above the line’ meal in days, Phil Olckers reflects on his three-day experience.

"It just hit me how blessed I really am"

“It just hit me how blessed I really am”

So Monday morning started a little crazy for me. The Live Under The Line challenge kind of slipped my mind a little bit over the weekend, and after church on Sunday evening it was too late, and I was too lazy, to go and do my grocery shopping. I woke up Monday pretty hungry, about to smash a bowl of Pronutro and coffee as I often do on a Monday morning, but then I remembered I was supposed to be “Living Under The Line,” so a glass of water had to do the trick. (Thank God for clean running tap water!) And off I went to start the day.

I had a really busy morning at work so only got around to go shopping at about 10:30ish. By then I was starving and very tempted to call it all off. But the fact that I had committed to speaking in front of church kept me going. I can’t lie, that was the only reason. So after quite a few calculations, I managed to work out a perfectly good LUTL diet for the next three days.

I carefully picked three decent-sized bananas. Usually I’d just go for the best looking ones, but now I had to try keep this cheap, so had to take size into consideration here. Then a loaf of un-sliced freshly baked bread. It was  the cheapest option, but  turned out to be the best (the bread is AMAZING!) A jar of peanut butter, which luckily for me was on promotion, so I scored R3 leftover, and oats for breakfast. My menu then became oats for breakfast, peanut butter and bread for lunch and dinner, and a banana as a snack.

Day 1

I struggled. My body was a bit man down from a general flu-ish feeling. But I had committed so I didn’t give in. I did a 12km run after work – I really enjoy training and staying fit – but I was seriously craving a full meal afterwards with a proper portion of meat. But two slices of bread had to do the trick and off I went to a farewell where everyone was eating food and drinking beer – I had my water. Live Under The Line was a great conversation starter and got a lot of people thinking and inspired, so I’m glad I stuck out day one.

Day 2

My mind was now in the game. I was so ready for day two. I mean it’s actually a lot to eat considering people who really live under the line. Got to work and when I reached over to get my packet of lunch for the day, the horror hit. I forgot it at home. Noooo. Luckily, I had spare oats at work and the R3 I saved thanks to the peanut butter promotion, so a R3 delicious roll from Spar served me for lunch.

Was still feeling flu-ish though, so I bought some Corenza-C and a Lucozade. I debated for a while whether I could buy these, but the whole point of LUTL for me is the change it brings to my heart, and so I decided to take the “stay healthy” route. This challenge made me realise how expensive even just your basic everyday medicine is – in one day I blew five days worth of budget for about three days worth of medicine. to treat a common cold.

Did another run, so I really needed that Lucozade energy. This made me realise that I wouldn’t be able to keep up my training program if I was living on R10 a day. Even after just two days I could feel my energy decreased significantly.

Day 3

It’s my birthday today so saying no to cake is going to be difficult. I bought a cake for all my colleagues at work, so I get to watch them enjoy it – not looking forward to that! But, hey, hopefully it opens up some more awesome conversations.

Went swimming at 6am, and after that my girlfriend gave me my birthday present and wanted to surprise me with a smoothie. I then remembered I was LUTL’ing… But… I can’t lie, I cheated, I let her buy me one. It’s my birthday – I’m allowed a treat, right? Besides, my R10 diet isn’t really helping me stay energised with my training program, so I really needed it this morning. I will do my best to stick to it for the rest of the day, but the temptation to quit and enjoy birthday treats is really getting to me.

Final thoughts

This year, LUTL has been a good one for my heart. The first time I did it in 2011 I was really excited and on such a buzz afterwards, phoning Common Good peeps and wanting to give, give, give. But that disappeared after a month. During last year’s LUTL challenge I just wanted to get it over and done with. I got a little bit annoyed with it and it didn’t really do much for me. But this year, LUTL really got me thinking.

I walked past a beggar yesterday. I had a wallet full of money and could have easily given him some food, but I just though about my own stomach and shrugged him off. I’m not changing over night, but this year the challenge is really causing me to ask God to help change the way I view all the things I have and earn in this life. I’m also asking God to reveal to me how I can give more effectively and allow him into that part of my life.

For now I’m just grateful for all that I have, but I’m really praying for God to help me become more gracious and joyful with my giving. It’s a slow process but at least the praying for that has started now.

– Phil is a Sound Engineer. He works at a film company in Cape Town doing Sound Design and Final Mixing for feature films. He is part of the Common Ground Constantiaberg PM community.

P.S. Other great LUTL reads: “What It Felt Like To Be Homeless” by Richard Bolland, and “Why My Family Is Going Hungry” by Julie Williams

Living Under The What?

There are only a few days to go until the Live Under the Line challenge kicks off! Wondering what this is all about?


If you’re lucky enough to have a R10 note nearby indulge us for a moment by taking a good long hard look at it. Think about what you could spend it on. You could probably buy a chocolate or a newspaper with maybe R2 to spare, but what if that R10 note was all you had to survive on for the day?

You could buy a head of broccoli or a bunch of carrots from Pick ‘n Pay but it wouldn’t get you much further than that. What about transport, shelter, medicine, and clothing?

The international poverty line is the minimum level of income deemed adequate by the World Bank for survival. Currently, this amount is set at $1.25, which equates to about R10 (depending on the exchange rate).  After doing the above exercise you’re probably wondering how on earth anyone can survive on that.

But, according to the Human Development Report Office (HDRO), there are estimated to be over 13 million South Africans who are living below the international poverty line. That means that one in four of us is surviving on R10 or less a day to meet all of our basic needs.

In a country with such extreme inequality it can be difficult for those of us who are educated and employed to imagine what living under the poverty line must be like. In many ways it’s beyond our scope of imagination. That is unless we actually try to do it.

The Live Under The Line (LUTL) challenge is a call to consume no more than R10 a day on food for three days – from 6am on Monday, 9 September, to midnight on Wednesday, 11 September 2013.

We realise that this will in no way be an honest reflection of what life is really like for those living under the poverty line but we do hope that it will give us just a small taste of how a quarter of our country lives every day, and that in the process we will have our hearts freshly stirred to better love our neighbours.

Visit the Common Good website for more info and to download recipes, guidelines and prayer pointers.

Here are also a couple of great articles we’d recommend you read in the lead up to the challenge:

“Why My Family Is Going Hungry” by Julie Williams

“Through The Eyes Of A Child” by Ena Hewitt (A blog about a family’s experience of living in a township for a month)

“Live Under The Line: Do You See?” by Garrett Loubser

“Learning To Live On Less” by Kirsten Wilkins

“How We Came To Pay A Living Wage” by Nigel Branken

“What Did You Have To Say?” – Feedback from last year’s challenge

What are some of your thoughts in the lead up to the challenge?

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