The Two Dollar Challenge strives to provide an approximation of living in poverty. As such it has numerous imperfections, some of which are outlined here.
1. We are in a stable society.
Even while attempting to experience the obstacles of poverty, participants can expect relative safety. There are no hordes of bandits roaming across campus, and there is continuous access to campus security. On a larger scale, there is no threat of political upheaval, and we can trust those in authority to provide support. Those assigned to protect us will do so, they will not prey upon us. There are no impromptu checkpoints with university officials coercing bribes from participants.
2. Participants still have access to a wealth of resources.
Participants can retreat to the comfort of dorms during inclement weather. We have continued access to health-care, including immediate emergency services and follow-up care. Our environment is mostly disease free with no threat of malaria or water-borne diseases; boiling water before consumption is a rule, not a life or death action.
3. We know there is an end just around the corner.
At some point during the week every participant thinks something along the lines of, “Just two more days.” This provides the comfort we crave and allows us to more easily continue during the Challenge. This is often one of the most profound realizations; those living in poverty do not have this end date. This is why the experience works; it ignites empathy and humility.
We believe that the Two Dollar Challenge offers participants a starting point in learning about the harsh realities of poverty. We hope that each participant feels a stronger desire, a need, to get more involved and change the world because of their participation. As participants, we are aware of the shortcomings and realize that the glimpse we can gain is still a moving experience, and is worth the effort.