Northern Ireland

Rosamond Bennett on living without life's luxuries

Rosamond Bennett on one of her trips to Africa
Image caption Rosamond Bennett on one of her trips to Africa

Could you imagine not treating yourself to any of life's luxuries beyond the very bare essentials?

No new clothes, shoes, books or gadgets - that's a challenge that Rosamond Bennett set herself two months ago.

She will only buy five essential items; shampoo, shower gel, moisturiser, toothpaste and deodorant and when these run out she will replace them with the cheapest options she can find.

The former head of marketing and communications at Northern Bank decided to take on the year-long challenge after switching jobs.

"I became CEO of Christian Aid a year ago and I've been on five overseas visits and when I've been overseas I just looked at the women I met who have got absolutely nothing and who put their family first and do everything to try and make sure the family have got food, education, health care needs," she said.

"I came back from each of those visits and looked at the amount of stuff that I had in my wardrobe, clothes, books, shoes, jewellery, and I realised that what I probably spend in a week and in a month, could feed whole families, give children, a good education, and I just felt really materialistic and I thought, I've got to change."

She admits it has not been easy.

"It's getting more challenging by the day as things start to run out," she said.

"It's amazing all the little things you have around your house, you can still have a little bit of shampoo here or there, or a little bit of moisturiser, but now it's taking longer in the shower in the morning as I turn bottles upside down and give them a good thump to try and get the last little dribs and drabs out.

"I'm beginning to run out of foundation. That is a nightmare."

Image caption When Rosamond's makeup bag is empty she will not be able to buy any more products until her year is up


Rosamond said the priority for the women she met on her overseas trips was not to acquire an abundance of material possessions.

"These women have got such dignity and such poise and yet many of them have only got the one set of clothes that they can wear, but their dignity and beauty comes from within, it's like a real quiet strength and fortitude," she said.

"I realised that as women they can spend nothing on themselves to make them feel good whereas here the amount of times I have bought something because I've had a bad day, or just to try and make me feel better.

"I realise these women can't do that and there must be other ways to try and feel good about yourself than spending money."

While most of us, would struggle to stop spending on life's treats, Rosamond said simple changes can really make a difference to the lives of others.

"I met a man in the summer in Rwanda whose life was changed because he was given a goat by Christian Aid, so if people can still put something under the tree, but maybe think about what else they can do, look at present aid, look at what else they can give because it really does change people's lives," she said.

With Christmas fast approaching, she said although she will not be receiving any presents from loved ones this year, she will be treating her family.

"It will be the first Christmas that has ever happened, but what I am going to do is to buy presents for my friends and family from Christian Aid."