Most of us are lucky to have all the amenities in our lives. If you have a roof over your head, food on the table and a bed to sleep in at night, consider yourself lucky. There are millions of people around the world that struggle every day, just to survive. Dollar Street is a unique project that takes an intimate look at how people from all over the world lead their daily lives. The project visited close to 300 families from over 50 countries and documented their lives. The results reveal a grim discovery, that money is indeed a driving factor in all of our lives. From people who barely survive with no more than $27 a month to those who live a comfortable life earning more than $10,000 a month, here are stories of seven families to give you a different perspective on life.
#1: The Butoyi family, Burundi – Monthly income: $27
The Butoyi family lives in the province of Makamba, Burundi. Imelda is 41 years old and she works as a farm laborer on the land she owns. She has 4 children: The 3 sons; Patrick, 13 years old, Eric, 7 years old and Landri, 4 years old, live with her. While,the daughter Chantal, 9 years old, live with an uncle far away. Imelda works 60 hours a week.
This is the house that they call paradise:
The family lives in a 2-room house, which they built and own, along with some land. They have been living here for 5 years. The house has no electricity and no water.
Their only source of drinking water:
It takes them 40 minutes to collect water from a piped water source that leads mountain water into the valley. They have their own toilet outside the house. The family spends 80% of their budget on food. They cook with wood, so Imelda spends 14 hours a week collecting firewood.
This is their dining area and what their typical meal looks like:
The family has no money to save and are not planning to buy anything, but hope one day to be able to fulfill their dream of buying a house. Their most favorite items are their cattle and clothes. The image above shows their dining area, where the family eats their meals.
The kids’ favorite toys:
Their favorite toy is a textbook. The Butoyi family hopes that one day they will be able to buy a bigger and better house for themselves.
#2: The Gacotera family, the Philippines – Monthly income: $194
The Gacotera family lives in Tacloban in the Philippines. Leo is 40 years old and is a small scale farmer who also sometimes works as a lumberjack. His wife Maria is 36 years old and they live with their 3 sons Ghon, 12 years old, and Carlo, 9 years old, who are both students, and Julian, 5 months old. Leo works for a total of 48 hours/week. He sometimes gets an additional 20 hours working as a lumberjack.
This is their home;
The Gacotera family lives in a 2-bedroom house, which they own and was built with the help of family and friends. They’ve been living there for the past 40 years. The house has electricity, which fails several times a week, and toilet facility.
The kitchen with limited utensils, which is no bigger than the average size of a bathroom in the US;
The family buys 50% of their food, which costs them about 50% of their income, and produces the rest 50% themselves. They use electricity and wood for cooking in the kitchen. Leo and the children spend 2 hours a week collecting water that is safe to drink, which takes 10 minutes to collect and come back. The whole family spends 7 hours a week collecting wood. The parents spend 21 hours a week attending to home agricultural activities and Maria spends an extra 21 hours a week doing housework.
The dining area where the family spends time together and enjoy meals:
The Gacotera family saves money and sometimes go on vacation. The furthest they have ever been was Manila, in the Philippines. The next big thing they plan to spend money on is constructing a new roof for the house. They hope that one day they will be able to fulfill their dream of buying a big house.
Two of the most beloved things the family has in their lives:
The two of their most beloved things are a bike and their pet dog. Another big dream the famiy has is that one day they will be able to buy a big house and not worry about leaky roofs.
#3: The Kiriny family, Russia – Monthly income: $578
The Kiriny family lives in Noginsk in Russia. Olga is 57 years old and she works as a social teacher. Her husband Vasiliy is 60 years old and he is a pensioner. They live with their daughter Varvara, 17 years old, who is a student. Olga works for a total of 30 hours per week.
Their home, which is basically an apartment and their bedroom:
The Kiriny family lives in a 2-bedroom social flat. They’ve been living there for the past 25 years. They like that their flat has nice surroundings but don’t like the size of the flat and the quality of the building. The flat has electricity, which fails several times a week, a toilet and running water that’s not safe to drink.
This is the dining table they use to serve their guests:
The family has to buy all their food supplies, which costs them about 70% of their income. Olga spends one hour every week to collect water and up to 6 hours per week in an unpaid job or training. Water costs them up to 10% of their income. They use natural gas for cooking in the kitchen.
The Kiriny family hardly saves any money but they sometimes go on vacation. The furthest place they have ever been is Munich, Germany. The next thing they plan to spend money on is a new LCD TV.
The family’s two most priced possessions:
Despite the lack of luxuries, the family is staying positive and thankful for all they have. They hope that one day they will be able to fulfill their dream of buying a new flat that is fully renovated.
#4: The Hilgenstieler family, Brazil – Monthly income: $956
The Hilgenstieler family lives in Santa Catarina, a southern state of Brazil. Schelina is 37 years old and she works in sales. Her husband Vitor is 28 years old and he is a mechanic. They have a 4-year-old daughter, Helena, and she is a student. Both, Vitor and Schelina collectively spend around 88 hours per week at work.
Their new house that they call heaven:
The family owns and lives in a 3-bedroom house. They have been living in the house for 1 year and like its spacious accommodations and location; which is in an area where they grew up. It has uninterrupted electricity, an in-house water supply, and indoors toilet facility.
The living area where the family spends time together:
The family purchases all of their food supplies and spends around 40% of their income on it. For cooking, they use LPG fuel, and drinking water is available inside their house.
The Hilgenstieler family is hardly saving any money, however, their next big plan is to start their own car workshop. Their dream is to one day buy their own brand new car.
Some of Helena’s favorite toys:
The family also has never had a vacation and hope that they can save enough money and take their daughter to Disney World.
#5: The Moulefera family, France – Monthly income: $2,895
The Moulefera family lives in the Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes region, in France. Caroline is 39 years old and she is an architect. Her husband Simo, a technician, is 42 years old. They have a daughter, Mina, aged 4, and a son, Leo, aged 2.
Their beautiful home:
The family lives in a four-bedroom house which they own. They’ve been living there for 9 years. The house has electricity, drinking water, and a toilet.
The living area where the family spends most of their time together during their days off and weekends:
The family has a loan of €116,500 and they pay €600 as interest on their loan every month. They spend less than 30% of their income on buying food supplies.
The last time the family went on vacation was about three months ago and it was for a week. The furthest place they have visited is Morocco.
Their master bedroom:
Their financial situation does not allow them to save a penny and so, the family has no plans to buy anything big. However, Caroline dreams that one day she would be able to afford luxury Eames chairs.
#6: The Västibacken family, Sweden – Monthly income: $4,883
The Västibacken family lives in Uppsala in Sweden. Jonas is 35 years old and is a technical product manager. His wife Tove is 38 years old and she works as a project manager. They live with their 2 sons, Arvid, 6 years old, who is a student, and Gunnar, 4 years old. Together, the couple works for a total of 80 hours/week.
Their beautiful home:
The Västibacken family lives in a 4-bedroom house that they own. They’ve been living there for the past 5½ years. They chose to live outside of Uppsala because it is close to the countryside but still within biking distance to the city and is more affordable. They like living close to a forest with all its animals but they find the highway and railway noisy. The house has reliable electricity, safe running water, and a toilet.
Their dining table:
The family buys 90% of its food, which costs them about 30% of their income, and produce the remaining 10% themselves. They use electricity for cooking in the kitchen. In addition to the time they spend at work, Jonas and Tove spend an extra 21 hours every week doing housework. Drinking water costs them less than 10% of their income.
The Västibacken family saves money and sometimes goes on vacation. The furthest they have ever been was Sydney, Australia. The next thing they plan to buy is a new car and they dream of buying a digital camera. Their favorite item is their photo album.
The family also spends a small amount of their savings to provide books, toys and other entertainment resources for their children since they consider it important for their development.
#7: The Bi family, China – Monthly income: $10,098
The Bi family lives in Kunming, in the Yunnan province of China. Bi Hua is 57 years old and is a business owner. His wife, Yue Hen, is also 57 years old and they live with their niece and her family. Their niece, Meng, is 30 years old. Meng’s family includes her 39-year-old husband, Joust, and their 3-year-old son, Sjonny. The adults all work together in the family business, putting in a combined 240 hours every week.
This is their apartment:
The family lives in a three-bedroom house. They own the house and have been living there for the past 6 years. They like it because it’s close to their workplace and has a nice morning view, but the only thing they aren’t happy with is its small size. The house has uninterrupted electricity, water, and toilet facilities.
This is their living room where the family spends time together:
The Bi family purchases all their food supplies from the local market, which costs 30% of their income. The drinking water is purchased from the market and gets delivered to their house, costing up to 10% of their income. In the kitchen, they use electricity to power the stove.
A typical dinner:
The family is saving money for their future. Their favorite items in the house are their musical instruments.
Their most valuable possession: a guitar.
Our happiness does not just depend on money and these people are living proof of it. No matter how bad their luck is, they are still making the most of it and providing for their children. It is also a constant reminder that most of us have a lot to be thankful for.