For the 10th consecutive year, the University of Mary Washington will lead the global Two Dollar Challenge April 4-8 to raise awareness of global poverty.
The five-day awareness program challenges college and high school students across the United States and around the world to live on just two dollars a day. Participants buy food, hygiene products and other necessities out of two dollars a day while following other rules designed to simulate obstacles faced by people living in poverty.
Founded at UMW in 2006, the Two Dollar Challenge is now a national educational movement with 11 partners, including SAIH, The Rules and International Development Exchange. The challenge is run by 14 UMW students and Professor of Economics Shawn Humphrey – all on $50 and volunteer support.
At UMW, students will spend the week living and sleeping in make-shift shelters built from cardboard boxes and tarps as part of an experiential learning experience.
“I do the challenge to pull myself out of my comfort zone,” said senior James Hutcheson, who will be participating this year for the fourth time. “It challenges the way I view the world and it’s given me an incredible amount of empathy and tolerance for humankind.”
This year, the challenge is introducing the idea of playing the ‘sidekick’ in the fight against poverty, taking a backseat to the role of ‘hero’ that is so often illustrated in American culture.
“Solving poverty is tied to economic development,” said Humphrey. “It’s a long-term, complex process that has to start from within.”
During the week, students also raise funds for La Ceiba, a microfinance institution founded by UMW students to provide economic, social and educational support to the El Progreso community in Honduras. Through its partnership with Oxfam America and Results, the challenge also will raise awareness and support for lifesaving, effective foreign aid.