Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times — times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation — that they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils… Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life… While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.
On camera, British actor Tom Hiddleston is known for his role as the dark and devious God of Mischief called Loki. Off camera however, is a different story. The 32-year old London native charms fans from across the globe with his wit, generosity, and well-known dance moves, but perhaps the most notable act of kindness is his involvement with UNICEF, and the Big IF in their mission to end global hunger and poverty. Earlier this year, Hiddleston travelled to New Guinea in West Africa to see first-hand the work that UNICEF does.
“It gave me a new perspective on our collective responsibility for the state of our world,” said Hiddleston of his trip. “You know it took me six hours to get there by plane and as soon I landed, just the level, the state of poverty I saw was shocking.”
During a week-long trip, Hiddleston met with Guinean children, families and communities, making stops at a number of UNICEF projects along the way, including the National Institute for Malnourished Children in Conakry. “I saw severely and chronically malnourished infants…and when you see sights like that you’re impelled to act on a moral imperative.”
Supporters of UNICEF and fans of Tom Hiddleston were able to follow along the actor’s trip through daily blog postings that the actor himself wrote during his time in New Guinea. These blog postings inspired a number of Tom Hiddleston fans alternatively known as ‘Hiddlestoners’ to donate funds towards UNICEF in their native countries. “World hunger is one of those things that everyone knows about but few actually do anything about it,” admitted Katrin Iskander, a long-time fan of Tom Hiddleston. “He’s just an inspiration, you know? I mean anyone can make a statement saying they support a charity, but not everyone can actually go to poverty-stricken areas and be able to handle that. Seeing his [Hiddleston’s] commitment and work with UNICEF made me want to look into how I could help in my own area.”
Hiddeston also participated in the Live below the Line challenge, an anti-poverty campaign that tests participants to live below the extreme poverty line for five days, while spending no more than $1.25 US a day on food and drink. It raises awareness about the one billion people that go hungry each and every day around the world. The actor voluntarily participated weeks before the official event which ran from April 29thto May 3rd. Hiddleston had spread awareness about the campaign by sharing images and videos of the food he was eating and the physical struggles he faced, including his sudden withdrawal from coffee.
Four of the meals that Tom Hiddleston ate during the Live below the Line Challenge.
After hearing about Hiddleston’s participation in the Live below the Line challenge, a number of ‘Hiddlestoners’ took it upon themselves to also participate in the official event. Sarah Polanska said that it was not like anything she had ever experienced. “The first few days were not that bad,” said the Prague native. “Day four was when the hunger really set in the most. I wanted something, anything to eat.” Polanska admitted that she knew the challenge was going to be hard to stick to, especially with a fully stocked fridge within arm’s reach. Both Sarah Polanska and Tom Hiddleston agreed it was a test of willpower and strength and though the experience sounds simple in description, is harder to follow through with when fatigue and hunger set in. “You understand how hard it must be to live like this every day…weeks…months…years. You and I can change. If we are hungry, we just go to the refrigerator or cupboards and get something to eat.” Polanska explained. “People in poverty do not have that luxury.”
Overall, the Live below the Line challenge appeared to have a profound impact on all of its participants. “It rearranges your head and it makes you reassess your priorities and your complaints and your perspectives.” Hiddleston explained. “My work with UNICEF has been one of the most life changing things I’ve ever done.”
I keep thinking “ok there is no way I can be endeared to this man anymore”
I KEEP BEING WRONG