To Give or Not to Give

Week two and I am still adjusting to 24 hour Spanish. To be honest it is taking longer than I thought but I am here for the long run so let me just hold on. This week was interesting had a few classes went to the beach nothing major. BTW the beach I went to with my peeps was def the beaches you see in the travel magazines and the water was PERFECT. Anyways this past weekend a few of the guys in the program went to the Monument to the heroes of the Restoration just to chill and relax. It seems to be a good spot where a lot of young people go to relax. So we are just chilling when a kid asks me for some money so he can eat. The American side of me wanted to just ignore him as I would do if it was someone in the states and I did for a little. Then I realized that it wasn’t just him, others were there as well coming up to us asking for money to eat. Before I go on let me say I guilty of thinking that why should I give my money to someone who asks for it when I need it? Even though I am a Christian and the “Christian” thing to do is to give to those in need how many people honestly take out money in an effort to help feed someone else? When we see people on the street we sometimes tend to think that “oh that person doesn’t need my money its all an act” or “they just don’t like to work or listen to their parents” which in some cases may be true but how can we know? I ask all these questions because by the time a third young boy came up to us and asked for money something different happened. Maybe it was the fact that others wore me down or it was that he sat next to us for a good ten minutes asking  us for some money so he can eat but something just seemed different. Mind you I could not have a full out conversation with him but he was trying to clean out shoes for some money and we told him we didn’t need them cleaned but he stayed near us. I asked him where his parents were and he said they were dead and it is not up to me to say if he was lying but for some reason I believed him. Call me “weak” if you want but I eventually caved and gave him the amount he was asking for, (converted to US dollars and it’s not that much). After I did it and he ran off a part of me screamed inside and began to wonder “what are you doing what if he uses it to buy drugs or something?” Again the thinking that I had developed in the states to look for the worst in people who ask for money on the street. I guess my Christian up bringing came in because another side of me was like “who am I to judge?” Truth be told we are all humans and nobody knows what their life could have been like. It could of easily been me on that street asking someone for a few dollars in order to get some food hoping that they would have a heart and help me.  I wish I had asked for the boy’s name but he has  given me a face to associate with the people who end up getting the short end of the stick.  This is not problem that is not only in developing nations because truth be told this stuff happens in the States just as much but it is often portrayed as something that happens in other places such as in Africa or Latin America.  Poverty and hunger is a global problem as long as there is greed and people, there will be those who are poor and just trying to get by. The irony that this was taking place right outside a large cultural symbol is crazy. The monument stands out in this city but like anywhere there is a darker side that you have to open your eyes to see. It happens in everywhere city where there is splendor and wealth.  Next time it happens to us let’s remember that the person asking you is another human being and the shoe could have easily been on the other foot.

Peace and Love,

Khemani

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One thought on “To Give or Not to Give

  1. The human connection you experience with that last child is important. I think it’s critical for everyone to understand the suffering experienced by people all over the world. Much of that suffering seems avoidable, if we choose to prioritize these issues. It’s difficult to understand if handing out money directly to these people is really effective to ease their suffering. And maybe these particular children are not really the ones suffering, but are adept at playing the part to solicit money. I just finished a book called Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Although the focus is not solely on children, they do a good job of explaining the types of aid programs that have a long-term and sustainable benefit. Mostly grass roots programs that work within the cultural context to teach people to help themselves, and not to rely on handouts of others.

    Something to keep in mind when planning a visit to a tourist destination. If you find a way to support the effective aid programs in that area first, it might help with the feeling you experience not being able to donate to each child you see. Especially when you understand the consequences of that donation.

    PBS will air a documentary about the themes in the book in early October, if you find video learning more effective to reading.
    http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/half-the-sky/

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