How Oaktree fight for a poverty free South Asia

25 May 2016

Written by: Katherine McLeod

Oaktree's Live Below The Line campaign is raising money for poverty and education in Southeast Asia, Katherine McLeod writes.

Melbourne based not-for-profit Oaktree has launched its annual Live Below the Line campaign in an effort to raise funds for homelessness in Southeast Asia.

The 2016 program, which runs throughout May, has already seen thousands of Australians make their meals count by feeding themselves on just $2 a day – the Australian equivilant of the extreme poverty line.

So far in 2016 Oaktree has been able to raise $1,032,335 through donations and sponsorships.

Media director of Live Below the Line, Alexandra Alvaro, says that the number of people supporting the campaign goes a long way towards fighting poverty and improving education.

“Each year, we see that roughly 8000-10,000 Aussies sign up. This year, close to 9,000 Aussies took the challenge. We’re lucky to have a loyal audience, which often sees people taking the challenge again and again,” Alvaro says.

The challenge can be undertaken over either two or five days, with 76% of the raised funds going directly to funding poverty in South Asia.

“Our grassroots partner organisations in Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea work to provide young people with education resources and teacher training, something we see as integral to our mission to end the poverty cycle,” she says.

“Another 12% goes back into helping our fundraising efforts and running the campaign, and the small amount left covers our vital admin costs.”

In the major Asian countries, 80 to 90 per cent of underprivileged people live in the rural areas, and whilst in-roads been made into reducing rural poverty in Eastern and Southeastern Asia, limited progress has been made in South Asia.

While Eastern Asia and Southeastern Asia have made some progress in reducing rural poverty over the past three decades, progress has been limited in Southern Asia.

Noah, a 23-year-old student who has taken part in the campaign for the past two years, says that before hearing about the campaign through friends he was unaware of the prevalence of homelessness in Southeast Asia.

“It wasn’t something that was talked about much, you know. I hadn’t really seen much about it. But when I found out about Oaktree and did a bit of research myself, I just wanted to help. And Live Below the Line does that. It doesn’t take too much to give up two, or five days,” he tells upstart.

“It was hard the first time. I did five days right off the bat, and I struggled a lot. I don’t know how people do it, but I guess it’s different when you don’t have a choice. We are lucky that we have a right to education, that it’s a legal requirement. So many kids just don’t have that chance. Imagine what they could do if they did.”

According to Alvaro the challenge is finding new ways to draw donations.

“We’re proud that Live Below the Line is still doing well after 7 years in the peer-to-peer fundraising market. The biggest challenge we face every year is finding new ways to engage our audience and make them better fundraisers,” she says.

“This year we have introduced challenge mode, which allows participants to take on extra challenges to encourage higher donations from their friends. We also introduced the 2 day ‘Small Change Challenge’, which is more suited to full time workers or even those too young to take the full 5 day challenge.”

 

Katherine McleodWebKatherine McLeod is a third year journalism student at La Trobe. You can follow her on twitter here: @kattt_mcleod