Getting down and dirty to raise poverty awareness

Anglican deacon Sean Krausert has been living in a tent in his backyard to raise awareness about poverty in Canada and around the world.
Anglican deacon Sean Krausert has been living in a tent in his backyard to raise awareness about poverty in Canada and around the world.
Published August 16, 2011

The Rev. Sean Krausert is feeling grubby. He has been sleeping in a tent in his backyard for 19 days and bathing every four days.

An ordained deacon from St. Michael’s Church in Canmore, Alta., Krausert isn’t preparing an audition tape for Survivor. He’s been participating in “That Poverty Project,” a reality show of his own to raise awareness about poverty.

Following three months of simulated homelessness, Krausert will tackle three months of food rationing followed by three months of living on a less than $8 a day.

Krausert, who grew up in Edmonton, credits his parents and grandparents for instilling in him the value of speaking out. “From a very young age…it’s been a part of me to advocate on behalf of others, especially those with no voice to speak for themselves,” he told the Anglican Journal.

Although the project has received mixed reviews, Krausert stands firm in his commitment to it. “What’s crazy to me is living in a world of abundance [where many] people go to bed without food in their belly…without adequate water or sanitation…without having a roof over their heads.” Krausert gets two thumbs up from his wife, Janet, however, and their two children, Ben and Jenna, as well as people in his parish “They all know I have a passion for social justice and a deacon’s duty is to inform the church of the needs of the world,” he said.

Krausert admits that what he’s doing doesn’t really compare to the harsh realities for someone who’s living on the street. “…what they’re doing is far worse,” he said.

As part of the homelessness experience, which will end Thanksgiving Day (Oct. 10), Krausert enters the family home only to eat (akin to a homeless person who goes to a shelter) and use the bathroom. He washes and dries his clothes outside. His only mode of transportation is walking and he earns money by doing chores such as lawn mowing.

From Nov. 1 to the end of January, Krausert will join the ranks of Canada’s working poor, living on a daily allowance of $7.50. And from March 1 to the end of May, Krausert will eat the equivalent of World Food Programme rations.

Even though his situation is only temporary, Krausert has noted the impact on his self-confidence. “I have experienced being fearful and worrisome about entering into situations with people even though they are my friends because I didn’t feel good about myself, the way I looked, the way I felt. I was wondering, ‘Do I smell? Am I too scruffy?'”

Krausert is documenting his experience online via a blog, a Facebook account and Twitter. He is also conducting video interviews with organizations that advocate for the poor.

“There’s a lot of resources in the hands of a very few,” he said. “We need leadership from our government, from our churches and communities…to say ‘we will not stand for anyone being hungry and homeless on our watch,” he said.

To follow Krausert’s project, visit







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