The other day, Malaria No More sent me this press release that they have written about me and Jeremy Lefroy ‘living below the line’.
Staffordshire MP and sixth form student live below the poverty line on £1 a day to save lives from malaria
7th May 2013: How much change can you make from £1? This is the question that Jeremy Lefroy, MP for Stafford and Megan Owen, a sixth form student, are asking themselves as they live on a budget of £1 a day for all food and drink for five days.
They are taking part in Live Below the Line – an innovative campaign to fight extreme poverty. It challenges the public to get sponsored to cut their spending on food and drink to just £1 a day. This budget is a daily reality for the 1.4 billion people around the world who are forced to live below the poverty line every day, for absolutely everything.
Jeremy and Megan are doing the challenge in support of Malaria No More UK as they have both experienced the devastating impact of the disease while living in Africa. Jeremy caught malaria twice during his 11 years working with smallholder farmers in Tanzania (1989-2000) and Megan’s brother suffered from malaria when her family spent five years in Malawi (2008 -2012).
This experience shaped their personal and professional directions on returning to the UK. For Megan it has fuelled a keen interest in tropical medicine and she hopes to become a doctor. Jeremy, who was elected to Parliament in 2010 and has retained a strong interest in African issues, he sits on the influential International Development Select Committee and Chairs an active All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases. It was in this guise that he invited Megan to speak at a meeting the group organised at the Houses of Parliament to mark World Malaria Day on 25 April.
Megan says: “I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at the Houses of Parliament, but I was warmly welcomed by Jeremy, and he asked me to speak first. There were many people attending the event, including MPs and global health experts, and the theme of the evening was the World Malaria Day theme: ‘Invest in The Future: Defeat Malaria’.
Jeremy adds: “It was our privilege to welcome Megan. Her own story takes us beyond the statistics and speaks volumes about the daily impact of malaria in Africa. She saw her brother suffer and mercifully recover from malaria thanks to swift treatment. We want this to be the case for families across Africa. No parent should lose a child to a preventable disease that costs £1 to treat”.
Jeremy and Megan have since pledged to Live Below the Line. The challenge is in its third year in the UK, and growing strong with almost 5000 people registered so far, raising over £400,000 for charities, including Malaria No More UK. The charity works tirelessly to save and protect millions of lives from malaria, a preventable disease that remains a leading killer of young children in Africa.
Jeremy is doing the challenge one day a week due to his parliamentary schedule, with one week down and four left to go. He reflects: “I wanted to take the opportunity to experience life with my choices totally curtailed – the daily reality for 1.4 billion people today. The challenge also gives a timely excuse to raise awareness about a cause close to my heart – malaria. It is unacceptable that this preventable disease still claims the life of a child every minute and we need to do all we can to sustain support to save the lives of the most vulnerable”.
Megan completed her challenge during the Live Below the Line week from 29 April – 3 May. She says: “I was really surprised at how much I could get for my money, although I wish I could have afforded more fresh fruit and vegetables. I missed drinking a cup of tea! But the time goes quickly and it is a great opportunity to raise awareness about malaria – a disease that is, not only caused by poverty, but causes poverty”.
Money raised for Malaria No More UK will be used to help save lives in Africa, where most deaths from malaria take place and where the disease is an ongoing contributor to the cycle of poverty, preventing children from going to school and workers from earning a living.