I heard about the 121 challenge through social media and for some reason it is something I kept thinking about. The reason isn’t too mysterious actually – I’m a foodie and taking pleasure in food is something I take for granted because I’ve been lucky enough to be born in a country which doesn’t suffer of poverty as much as others. I looked into it and spoke to Steve Hili and he has sent me some information and agreed to an interview. 1.21 euros A DAY for food… think about it… and please be generous if you can. Any amount will help someone in need.


A group of Maltese people, including radio personality and comedian Steve Hili, are aiming to eat on 1.21€ a day for five days in order to raise awareness about extreme poverty in the world, and to raise funds to change lives in one of the poorest countries on the planet.

The 121 challenge was inspired by the global Live Below the Line movement and is being led locally by members of the NGO Amplify. This challenge aims to bring into focus some of the experiences of the 1.2 billion people around the world who live in extreme poverty.

At the same time the Amplify team aims to collect funds to continue to support a medical centre which the group set up in Southern Cambodia in 2008 and which continues to transformed the lives of some of the poorest people in the world.

Why 1.21€? Steve explains.

‘In 2005 The World Bank defined The International Extreme Poverty Line at $1.25US. If you live on less than that you are considered to be living in extreme poverty. Some people might say that $1.25US is actually quite a lot for people living in developing countries. But that is wrong. The figure of $1.25US was reached by working out how much you would have to live on if you were living in extreme poverty in the USA.

The Live Below the Line movement has worked out what living like this this would be equal to in countries where the challenge is being held. After factoring in inflation and the values of goods they came up with national figures. £1 in the UK. AUD2 in Australia etc.

Pinning ourselves to the UK (as the closest country where Live Below the Line is being done) exchange rates dictated that the participants would have to live on 1.21€ a day. So that is what we’re doing.’

Amplify was set up after Steve and his wife Kathryn spent a year and a half living in Cambodia and Namibia doing volunteer work. It was whilst in Cambodia, working with youths with disabilites that Steve and Kathryn were told about the essential need to set up a medical centre to service people in the remote village of Kampot.

cambodia clinic

Patients waiting outside the clinic that Amplify are supporting

Soon friends and family, especially Steve’s sister Alexandra (who is also doing the challenge) got involved with fundraising for the centre and within months it was set up, functioning, and actually changing lives.

‘For us, respect and partnerships are the cornerstones of any development work. Long-term volunteering really opened our eyes to the fact that us ‘westeners’ do not have all the answers to the ills of the world. So when we were told that our local partners felt that a medical centre was essential and that they needed some help with that, we got really excited. The centre has now been running for a number of years, providing free consultation and medicine for, amongst others new mothers, children and young people with disabillities and is doing great work but still needs some assistance as it strives to become more sustainable. We hope that we can provide some through the 121 challenge.

And how possible is it to live on 1.21€?

Steve said ‘Well 1.21€ is the ammount we can spend on food every day. We can have as much tap water as we want. As you can see I am desperately trying to look on the bright side. But I am starving just thinking about it!’

The 121 challenge is being held from Monday 12th May to Friday 16th May. If you would like to take part contact the Amplify team on amplifymalta@gmail.com

Donations can be made on https://www.betternow.org/mt/amplify
You can also follow all the goings on at www.the121challenge.blogspot.com and on facebook ( The 121 Challenge)

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One Comment

  1. Posted May 14, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations to Steve and his team for simulating the very noble idea of the ‘Live Below the Line’ Challenge.

    Since the movement began in 2010, over 25,000 people have taken the challenge, raising over $9 million for the world’s leading anti-poverty organisations.

    I have just finished this year’s ‘Live Below the Line’ UK Challenge, myself! It was officially held between the 28th of April and the 2nd of May 2014. In my case, I was trying to raise awareness and funds for the UN sponsored ‘Global Poverty Project’. Thanks to my very supportive friends and their acquaintances, I almost managed to raise my set target of £1000.

    I have an offer for Steve and all of you out there!

    I would be very honoured if we can all organise ourselves as a ‘Maltese’ Team, for next year’s ‘Live Below the Line’ UK Challenge. If you are interested, please follow my blog at: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/cauchivan and contact me on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LivebelowthelineIvanCauchi

    Thanks and Good Luck!

    Ivan Cauchi

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