Lessons learned by week’s end

$1 veggie baskets

When trying to Thrive on a $6.65 daily budget, gastronomical satisfaction is difficult to come by.  Successful meal planning is achievable through a patchwork of coupon clipping, comparison shopping, proper time management, lots of home cooking and the acts of kindness by others.

Without the support of friends, the week would have been even harder.  The repetition of a long week of self-imposed solitude and leftovers eaten at home to truly understand poverty was replaced with three modest dine-out meals and honest conversation by week’s end.  Thank you to Prabha, Nupur, Farzana, Ilana, Gideon, Jacob and David, Lisa, Judy, Natasha and JC for the enduring friendship.  There will always be a seat at my table for you.

Friendship and generosity are reciprocated among people.  When one is poor and living precariously, it is challenging to feel confident to give selflessly, especially if one is worry about his or her own survival. Relationships can be difficult to maintain when one is sick or when a workday never seems to end for those engaged in multiple low wage jobs.

For the past week, I have been watching my money, staying true to the food budget assigned by Fife House.  The experiential learning left me with some new observations and re-confirmed values.

We live in a city of extremes and one of the greatest contrasts can be measured between those who have means to thrive and those without.  Eating well and living well are synonymous.  Each cannot exist without the other.  Having enough nutritious food on a daily basis can be the difference between staying healthy or following ill.

This week’s experience of constantly worrying about my next meal left me preoccupied with money in a way I haven’t experienced for some time. Even during my teenage years filled with personal tribulation, I didn’t lack food or go hungry for long. My strict obsession of staying within my $46.55 week allowance left me under spent by $10.56.  True to the circumstances for those living on ODSP, it is still not enough to purchase basic toiletries, seasonal clothing and transit fares.  Although, I met the budget-side of the challenge successfully, I can’t say that I “thrived” with my week of low blood sugar, cold hands, fatigue, disorientation and hunger pains.

As a result of my participation in the Thrive on $6.65 challenge I have learned much about health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS, poverty and most importantly, compassion.

After reading the Fife House blog entries, three of my friends have decided to conduct their own Thrive on $6.65 challenge this month. I am sure that they find the physical and emotional experience to be as illuminating as I have.  Perhaps, you may even consider the challenge for yourself.

Thank you to my fellow participants, Bruce, Keith, Cory, Doreen, Colleen, Gail and above all to the clients of Fife House for the invaluable lessons from this challenge.

The Thrive on $6.65 challenge ends tonight but I assure you the lessons of this week will never be forgotten. 

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