Could you live on a $1 a day?
Would you be able to survive on a dollar a day? Sounds crazy, right? Most of us would say no without any regard. We would not be able to fathom what life would be like living on these wages. However, living on a dollar a day is possible in other places around the world, but that does not make it an easy task.
In my Global Engagement class, my professor showed the class a series of videos from a YouTube documentation called Living on One. Three friends travel to a remote Mayan village outside of Guatemala City called Pena Blanca, where they document their study of rural poverty and how they and the villagers lived while making only one dollar a day. According to the video, there are about 1.1 billion people across the globe who live on a dollar a day.
One major theme that I noticed throughout the videos was that there were many problems and uncertainties that the three friends experienced while in the village, which the local people experienced daily. In one of the videos called Water from a Pipe, one of the three friends contracted a parasite infection after drinking contaminated water from a rigged pipe system in the village. The guy did not have a well-adjusted immune system to deal with the various contaminants in the water. But the villagers’ health was not affected as much because they had been drinking the water since who knows when, and their immune systems had adjusted to deal with such a harsh environment. This is not to say that the people are not sick because they most likely are but cannot afford medical care.
In another video called Hunger and Tortillas, the three friends struggle to take in enough nutrition from a diet consisting of rice, beans, lard, and tortillas. They struggle with not having enough energy to pursue daily activities. Young children are most susceptible to having their early development stages hindered because of the lack of access to clean water and healthy and nutritious food. The children in this remote village will inevitably fall behind because of the environment in which they live.
The last video was called Disaster Strikes. Heavy rains engulfed the small village, causing landslides, river overflows, and hurricanes in the surrounding area. Many people lost everything: infrastructure, crops, and lives. The people were forced to start over with some governmental assistance, but not like what we have in America. I’d imagine that the villagers would want to get out of poverty, but natural disasters keep people in the cycle of poverty.
So, I will ask the question again. Can you live off a dollar a day? Absolutely. Will it be easy? Absolutely not. In fact, no one should be living on these types of wages, but in the world, we live in, there is an unequal distribution of wealth that keeps some people at the top and others at the bottom.