Living on One Dollar – Attempting to Understand Extreme Poverty

Timelime Photos - Living on One Dollar.

This article begins recently one Saturday evening whilst sitting on the sofa flicking through the documentaries on Netflix, a little frustrated if I was truthful at not being able to find anything that was of great interest to me. I had watched most of the other documentaries on Netflix and was trying to find something meaningful and educational to watch. Then, thankfully, I came across a fascinating documentary called Living on One Dollar and started to follow it with close attention. It was about four friends that had decided to live on a dollar a day for fifty six days in a rural Guatemalan village called Pena Blanca. They wanted to understand the realities of severe poverty and the hardships that go with it.

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Timelime Photos – Living on One Dollar.

The four men, who all come from good middle class backgrounds, are called Chris Temple, Zach Ingrasci, Ryan Christoffersen and Sean Leonard. They live in the United States of America. Chris lives in Connecticut and was studying International Relations, as was Zach. They went to the Claremont McKenna College in California. The other two young men, Sean and Ryan, are documentary makers who have great ability in catching on film the hardship which they all went through in their time staying in the Guatemalan village. They were all students who had a purpose to give a perspective on wider issues of poverty and how the poor go about surviving on so little; so often we find that these are good, honest people, struggling on a daily basis with their health, education and dreams of wanting to succeed in what they want to become. As I carried on watching the documentary, it showed that these young men’s approach to how poverty exists was something to be respected and admired. Their aim was to try to understand poverty in greater depth and bring some humanity and empathy to the situation.

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Timelime Photos – Living on One Dollar.

The four didn’t expect the short YouTube videos to do so well. However, a staggering 650,000 views on YouTube propelled them to make a full length documentary about their experiences in Guatemala. Since then the story has gone from strength to strength, helping people like Rosa who was living in poverty and who is now training to be a nurse. This act of kindness and humanity from them drew great interest from CBS and This Morning with an interview by Charlie Rose. They also gained recognition at the Sonoma International Film Festival, winning best documentary in the audience award. Gary Ross, the famous writer who directed The Hunger Games, commented furthermore that the documentary film was truly inspiring and recommended it highly to audiences.

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Timelime Photos – Living on One Dollar.

Recently they have just completed a project with 1001 Media, a media company founded by Salam Darwaza and Mohab Khattab, creating a documentary called Salam Neighbor about staying at a refugee camp called Zaatari in Jordan. In the short film, Zach and Chris state that this is the largest refugee crisis in the last twenty years, with 4.8 million refugees leaving Syria in recent years because of the troubles. They questioned how a family could deal with such extreme changes to their lives and so chose to live in the refugee camp for one month, wanting to experience the hardship and struggles of being a refugee in that extreme situation. They partnered up with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which provided Zach and Chris the opportunity to be the first registered people to be given a tent and allowed access into any refugee camp throughout the world. The refugee camp lies a short distance from the Syrian border within Jordan, housing almost 80,000 people and covering over five square kilometres. Chris and Zach were obviously a little nervous to begin with, being the first people to undertake something like this. Would it work out for them and could they realise the goals they wanted to achieve? Their main aims were to bring the world’s attention to the refugee crisis and to show people what it was like living life as a refugee, with the hardship they encounter on a daily basis. To understand more, have a look at this link where the team of directors and producers of Salam Neighbor have a conversation about their experiences with Mimi Geerges on her US show, discussing what they wanted to achieve by doing the documentary.

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Timelime Photos – Living on One Dollar.

At the Za’atari camp, the average stay for a refugee is around seventeen years – a quite unbelievable statistic which must take its toll on a person’s body and mind considering the conditions many have to endure.

Since successfully graduating from Claremont McKenna College, Chris and Zach have gone from strength to strength, giving speeches at different United Nations events as well as being interviewed on national American television; a number of other international publications have also shown keen interest. They are truly inspiring men who want to challenge the world’s ideas and perceptions towards poverty for the better. They also understand and highlight the fact that the vast majority of refugees who have fled Syria eventually hope to go back to their homeland and rebuild the country again. With this in mind, please kindly donate to their worthy cause and ease the suffering of people who really need help.

Timeline Photos - Living on One Dollar.

Timeline Photos – Living on One Dollar.

Chris and Zach have a new film about Syrian refugees which will be available on iTunes on April 14th 2016.

Global Seven News

Lee Cross

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