“As she came out of the classroom on her first day of school, she raced towards me and placed her head straight in my lap. Crocodile tears were streaming down her face. As a mother, I couldn’t help but feel protective and angry for sending her to school. Finally she calmed down and I could ask what had happened. Between several heartbreaking sobs, she stuttered “I didn’t learn anything today at school.””This is the story that my mum loves to share with all my friends about my first day of school.Funny? Yes.Embarrassing? Definitely. Every time I hear my friends cry from laughter when the story is told, there is one thing that always comes to mind. Man, I love learning.
Before I go on, let me introduce myself first. My name is Daisy Ambach and I am Marilyn’s little cousin. I am currently studying engineering and French at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. And one day, I want to save the world!
Where was I? Oh, right. I love learning! Ever since my very first day of school, I have had a love affair with learning. As a little girl, I remember not being able to get to sleep at night because I couldn’t stop thinking about what we would learn at school tomorrow. I remember coming to school with the biggest smile on my face because I knew I would learn something new today. I remember loving the feeling of not knowing an answer to the teacher’s question because that meant that there were more things for me to learn. Learning, learning, learning. It is like a drug to me and I simply can’t get enough.
Not only do I attend one of the top one hundred universities in the world, I feel damn lucky living Down Under. Brisbane is one of the most amazing places on Earth. Full of culture, full of nature and full of opportunities.
Yep, I can say that I am enjoying a very beautiful life. So, it saddens me that there are people in our world who are not enjoying life; they are only surviving it. It saddens me there are 1.3 billion people who live under the extreme poverty line. But most of all, it saddens me that there are people around the world who don’t get to learn.
For this reason, I started volunteering at an Australian-based not-for-profit organisation called Oaktree. We are Australia’s largest youth-run organisation with over 150,000 members. To us, extreme poverty is unacceptable and we believe that education is the key to breaking the extreme poverty cycle.We have partnered with developing communities in Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Cambodia where we support educational projects for young people.
Our largest annual fundraising campaign isLive Below the Line. It is a five-day challenge in which participants limit their food consumptions to the equivalent of the extreme poverty line. According to the World Bank, the extreme poverty line is defined to be AU$2 (or US$1.25). In this way, participants raise awareness for extreme poverty whilst raising funds for educational projects in remote Cambodia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea. In its four years, Live Below the Line has raised more than AU$5.6 million for Oaktree’s projects. Amazing, right?
Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes. Is it rewarding? Definitely. I first took the challenge in 2013 and the hardest part was not being able to go out with my friends for dinner. Being a university student, I live a very fast-paced life where it is only natural to catch up with my friends over a healthy brunch, a groovy sushi date or dinner in a funky restaurant. When you have to limit your food budget to AU$2, however, coffee dates suddenly become a luxury. To us, eating is a social experience whilst to someone living in extreme poverty, eating is just eating.
In an attempt to learn a new lesson during the Live Below the Line this year, I convinced my friends to participate in the campaign as a team. We call ourselves ‘The Mental Lentils’ and you can check out our team on www.livebelowtheline.com.au/team/the-mental-lentils.
I live by the philosophy that we should learn something new every day. However, there is one thing that I have always struggled to learn: how to stop talking. So I will try to end this article on a short, sweet note. Thank you for reading my story and thank you to Marilyn & Josephine for letting me share my passion with you!