This morning I have started my Live Below the Line challenge for 2014.
It is sometimes hard to believe that people are still living on less than £1 a day in the 21st Century, but around 1 billion of our fellow human beings do. They and their children die too young, they suffer from terrible health problems, and many face horrific powerlessness in the face of abuse and violence. However, we can do something about it.
I am Living Below the Line on £1 a day for 5 days because I want to shine a light on this scandal, maintaining pressure on decision makers to take the actions that change these lives, and I want to do something practical too.
I have recently returned from Mexico City where I attended the First High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC), 15-16 April. Over 1500 development leaders came together to discuss the best ways to conquer extreme poverty. A new partnership, and new global goals post-2015 will be essential. But individual and collective action matters too.
For three years now, I have taken part in the Live Below the Line fundraising campaign. Over those years I have raised over £35000 for the Global Poverty Project, the campaign organisation who had initially established LBTL, for Welsh charity Positive Women and for Action for Peace and Development.
Together with Positive Women, the McConnell International Foundation developed a skills and training project called Tools for Life. We partnered young female carpenters from the UK with determined women affected by HIV in Swaziland who want to free themselves from dependency on external help. I visited them last August. The pilot was a huge success, and the women are now winning work and growing a business in a part of Southern Africa that seemed to be without hope.
From today 25th April to 29th April I am once again Living Below the Line for the second generation of Tools for Life. All donations to my fundraising will directly help Tools for Life and similar schemes.
Our mission against global poverty is far from done. This week I and many others will highlight this continuing disgrace, but with your support, I can also help do something about it.
Please donate what you can either by sending it to me (cheques payable to McConnell International Foundation, House of Lords, Westminster, London SW1A 0PW) or by visiting the campaign website where you can donate on-line: www.livebelowtheline.com/me/jackmcconnell