Mandy survives malaria to go on to live on £1 a day below poverty line

Mandy's '£1-a-day to survive' challenge

Mandy's '£1-a-day to survive' challenge - Credit: Below the Line campaign

Mandy George survived malaria which almost killed her—now she wonders if she can survive poverty on £1 a day.

Mandy with children in Haiti... before being struck with Malaria

Mandy with children in Haiti... before being struck with Malaria - Credit: Below the Line campaign

The 34-year-old from Bethnal Green set herself the challenge living five days ‘Below the Line’ as part of an anti-poverty campaign.

Mandy with children in Haiti... before being struck with Malaria

Mandy with children in Haiti... before being struck with Malaria - Credit: Below the Line campaign

She got through it and is now urging sponsors to cut their spending on food and drink to just £1 a day between April 28 and May 2 as part of the Live Below the Line campaign in aid of charities.

The £1 budget is the daily reality for more than a billion people around the world below the poverty line, for everything including food, drink, accommodation, transport, health and education, the campaign points out.

The campaign raised almost £1 million last year for charities fighting extreme poverty including Malaria No More UK, Mandy’s charity of choice.


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Mandy left her home in Old Betjhnal Geen Road to work in the earthquake recovery in Haiti 15 months ago when she was struck by malaria.

“I was windsurfing one day and in Intensive Care three days later,” she recalls. “Then I was put into an induced coma—and nearly didn’t come out of it.

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“A combination of lack of accurate information with a heavy dash of ‘it-will-never-happen-to-me-itis’ almost killed me.”

She contracted the most deadly strain, malaria falciparum, which led to jaundice and pneumonia, followed by multi-organ failure.

“The parasite attacked all my organs,” she recalled. “My body went into septic shock—lungs, liver, kidneys, stomach. You name it, it failed.

“Even when the malaria was brought under control, I swelled up to twice my size and needed blood transfusions and dialysis.

“But the worst part was my lungs filled with fluid and gasping for air. Nothing worked.”

There were moments when doctors didn’t expect her to survive. But she got through it.

It took three months before she could begin working again, part time at first.

Now Mandy is using her near-death experience to raise awareness and funds to for victims of malaria, one of the biggest child killers on the planet, claiming a young life every minute, round the clock.

It also takes a significant economic toll in Africa, says the campaign, costing the continent £1 billion every year and some families up to a quarter of their household income.

This can take a devastating toll, Mandy points out, when people are living on £1 a day to survive.

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Mandy George hopes to raise £5,000 for Malaria No More UK charity and can be sponsored online through Below the Line campaign.

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The campaign runs from April 28 to May 2 for anyone who wants to sign up to Live Below the Line to take the challenge thant Mandy got through.

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