Meet the Manchester woman living on £1 a day to raise money for African children


£1 a day is the amount most families living in the African country of Gambia have to survive on. And that’s how much Madeline Penfold, 24, a photographer from Prestwich, is trying to live on for a whole month.

She’s on a mission to raise £10,000 to renovate the Erenjang nursery school in Kotu in The Gambia after a visit with her friend Hannah Carrington in 2013 left her moved by the conditions of poverty families are faced with.

Madeleine, who is also the manager of Salford-based Foundry Film Studios, said: “I was only there for two weeks but I had never felt so much love, warmth and acceptance. When I first met Fatima, aged five, we had a special bond and when I learned her family couldn’t afford to put her through school I immediately agreed to help pay the £60 a year for her education.

“They deserve the best possible start in life, and education is everything. We have the power to change this so why shouldn’t we?”

The money raised by Madeleine through her £1 a day for 30 days challenge will go towards getting two teachers qualified, installing electricity in the school, installing working toilets and a new septic tank, rebuilding a shelter from the sun in hot seasons and rain in stormy seasons, installing a new school floor, buying new school equipment, extending and fixing the roof to stop flooding in the classroom and helping children with their school fees.

The Gambia is one of the poorest and smallest nations in the world, with well over a third of its population forced to survive below the UN Poverty line. Many survive on the equivalent of £1 a day or less – hence Madeline’s decision to live on £1 a day for the whole of April.

“It’s been a hard challenge so far,” said Madeleine, “and I still have five days to go, but it’s nothing compared to the conditions Hannah and I saw on our visit and what we are both passionate about helping to change.

“At the start of each week I take my £7 for that week and buy oats, bananas, rice, carrots, kale, broccoli, apples, tinned chopped tomatoes, tinned kidney beans, stock cubes, salt, onions, sweet potatoes and fresh tomatoes – all from value and discount ranges. I have oats and banana every morning and a rice and veg meal for tea, plus sweet potato and tomato if I get hungry.

“My main challenges have been the lack of energy. Also working in a studio constantly being surrounded by food is hard. Social situations are hard too. I can’t eat or drink anything or do anything that I would normally do really. So many social situations, if not all, are centered around spending money, which really makes you think. I cycle to work each morning so I’m not spending money on travel either.

“It was particularly difficult over the Easter weekend – living on £4 with no family meals or chocolate was particularly tough, but every time I start to find it hard I just remind myself of the good the £10,000 for the Erenjang nursery project will do and that keeps me going.”

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