Living on One Dollar

Synopsis: An award-winning film that has been called "A Must Watch" by Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus and Director of The Hunger Games, Gary Ross. Living on One Dollar follows the journey of four friends as they set out to live on just $1 a day for two months in rural Guatemala. They battle hunger, parasites, and extreme financial stress as they attempt to survive life on the edge. An unimaginable reality for most young Americans, the challenges they face are real and plague over 1.1 billion people around the world. While the friends quickly learn there are no easy answers, the generosity and strength of Rosa, a 20 year old woman, and Chino, a 12 year old boy, give them resilient hope that there are effective ways to make a difference.
Director(s): Zach Ingrasci (co-director), Sean Leonard (co-director), Chris Temple (co-director)
Production: IndieFlix
56 min

[ Birds chirp ]

[ Up-tempo music plays ]

[ Water running ]

[ Clicking ] You guys want to eat eggs?

You got food?

Filming. My name is Chris, and I

grew up just outside of New York City.

This is Zach, and he's a close friend of

mine from Seattle. We've grown up with very

similar lives. These are the

houses we were born in...

Our families... the awkward

middle-school phase...

The sports we played... and these

are the things we did for fun...

I met Zach during my first year at college,

and we quickly became close friends.

Our lives are fast-paced, and these are the

things that we're used to seeing every day.

[ Atm whirring ] [ Horns

honking ] [ Atm beeping ]

This is chino. He is 12 years old and

lives in a rural village in Guatemala.

He lives in extreme poverty, on less than one dollar a day.

How can we begin to understand

what his life is like, about what it means to

live every day with no clean water, little

food, and poor shelter? And just like chino,

there are over 1.1 billion people around

the world that survive on one dollar a day.

Zach and I study international

development in school, but there are some

things that a textbook just can't answer.

So we're creating a plan to spend our summer

living on only one dollar a day in a rural

Guatemalan village -- in

chino's village.

Okay. Bye, mom. I love you.


I mean, I think it's just an amazing opportunity

to learn for myself what it really means

to live under a dollar a day... which, coming

from this reality, I can't really say I have any


I love you. I love you, too.

I'll see you.

We're bringing along two filmmakers...

And setting out to better

understand the reality of extreme

poverty firsthand. Let's do this.

[ High-pitched voice ] Hello!

[ Whooshing ] [ Mid-tempo music plays

] We're beginning our journey in

Guatemala city with a six-hour ride

on the back of a crowded chicken bus.

We are headed to the village of pea blanca

that's representative of rural poverty

in many parts of the world. In these remote

areas of Guatemala, 7 out of 10 people

live under the poverty line.

[ Breathing heavily ]

Is that -- are you hitting stuff there?

Well, I think we've got a

boundary of, like, a big rock right here,

so this might have to be our edge.

Sweet. Maybe it can

be chipped away. Yeah.

It can.

Okay. Why is it

going out like that?

You're pulling it too hard.

Pulling it too hard? No.

[ Chuckling ] Sadness. Right.

We're getting everything...

Eight weeks of this is going to be

pretty intense I'm not going to lie.

[ Both laugh ] Oh, God.

I cannot believe it came together

this is so one of those ideas

that we'd talk about and never do.

Well we're here...

Audio recording. Filming, filming.

[ Chuckles ]

[ Sighs ] [

Chuckles ] Well...

[ All chuckle ] We're here in the

rural highlands, in the small village

of pea blanca. There are about 300

people living here, most of whom are

Mayan. Most of the people only

spoke a Mayan dialect called

Kaqchikel, and it was impossible to learn.

[ Both speaking Kaqchikel ]

We want to live as close as possible to the

reality of poverty, so we're replicating a

few key aspects of it. Our budget for the

trip is one dollar a day each, for 56

days. But instead of giving ourselves

one dollar every day, we're

making our income unpredictable.

This way, we do not know when

we'll get paid. We're doing this because

many of our neighbors are employed

informally as day laborers or farmers, so

they never know when they'll get paid or how

much they'll make. We're simulating this

by taking our total budget of one dollar

a day each and splitting it into

random numbers between zero and nine.

Then, every morning, we'll pick a number out of a hat.

If we pick a nine, we make

nine dollars that day. Pulled a nine.

No way!

You got a nine? Or it's a six.

That's a nine, for sure.

It's great, ain't it? Well-picked.

Dude. He's good.

A second aspect of poverty we want to simulate

is the process of starting our own business.

So we're taking out a loan of $125 to pay for

somewhere to live and for a plot of land to

grow radishes on. Our small loan is

part of a service for the poor called

microfinance. Zach and I have heard

both good and bad things about these

banks but wanted to see firsthand if they

were helping in pea blanca, both from our

neighbors and by taking out a loan ourselves.

This means that, every 15 days,

we'll have to pay back small installments of

$6.25, or else have to default on our loan.

[ Camera shutter clicking ]

What would you say? I mean,

we've got 1,312 quetzales.

That's pretty decent. That's

how much we have left, yeah.

So... Get a chick

and sell some eggs.

Yeah, I mean, out of that, we could get -- I

mean, if we buy a chicken out of that, that's...

Dude, we're not buying a chicken out of that.

I think we should buy a

chicken out of that. No, dude.

Like, chickens don't, like,

automatically lay eggs. [ Chuckles

] We don't have money for feed.

And we can buy, like, fruit or anything

else that's so much better for us.

Okay, we'll research, dude. We'll

research the chicken-egg complex.

I will be so angry if our chicken doesn't lay eggs.

[ Speaking Spanish ]

[ Chuckles ]

Hola. Is that really where

we're gonna [Chuckling] get water


Oh, dude, there's a bug in there.

Sean, you should check this

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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