In my previous post I talked about helping the needy, because that is just one of the best way we can show our love for God. Then I realized something; nowadays many people are so skeptical about helping others, and it’s not because they’re mean, but simply because they’re not sure if they are helping someone or just being ripped off.
When walking from work in the company of two work mates, who are also my friends, one evening two years ago, we met a small girl; I would presume she was about six years. She looked quite ragged, with her short hair disheveled and her dress dirty and worn out. It was slightly past eight in the evening, and I could tell she was freezing; she didn’t have a sweater on.
She walked up to my friends and me, and stood in front of us with her hand outstretched. I stepped towards her, and placing my hand on her shoulder, I bent forward, so we were on the same level as I talked to her. “Who are you here with? Are you alone?” I was concerned because she was roaming the streets at that time alone; there was no telling what could happen to her; she was so vulnerable. It just wasn’t safe.
“I’m with my brother.” She replied, barely above a whisper. I had to lean in to hear her clearly.
“Your mom, where is she?” I pried. It occurred to me that maybe she was an orphan or had run away from home like many street children, but I had to ascertain.
“She’s home. She sent my brother and me to find money. If we go home empty handed she will punish us severely.” I sympathized with her; she was out there because her mom had sent her to find money. Her brother wasn’t anywhere in sight so I figured they had split, agreeing where to meet later. A part of me resented her mother for subjecting her kids to such insecurity; the young girl could get raped or worse… but then I reckoned I shouldn’t judge the woman because I didn’t know what state she was in.
I reached into my purse, pulled out some change, and gave it to her. My friends followed my cue and gave her some money too. It was only mid-month, so we didn’t have that much on us. Her face lit up, evidently pleased, and she scurried, disappearing into a street corner.
Almost twenty minutes later, we walked into a supermarket, which was just a few blocks from where we’d seen the girl. I wasn’t going to buy much so I just picked a shopping basket. After taking a few rounds picking the items we needed, my friends and I walked to the counter to pay. It was while we were making a turn at the entrance of the section we were in, that we stepped aside to excuse a lady who was pushing a big cart.
My eyes almost sprung out of their sockets in shock as I saw the young lady who was behind the shopping cart. I’d never seen her before, but the sight of the little girl we’d met earlier beside her helping to push it made me feel cheated. A young boy, who I presumed was the brother she’d told me about was also with them. He wasn’t much older than she was. I just couldn’t believe it. I felt duped. The young lady didn’t look needy one bit. The items in her cart only confirmed what I felt; she had used her innocent daughter to rip off unsuspecting people like me.
That night I almost vowed to never help anyone else, but then I reckoned there could be someone who could be really in need. A few days later we bumped into that same girl. She came to us, but since we already knew her mom was an able woman, we walked past her, a word unsaid. We passed a dimly lit alley and we saw a woman sitted there; we assumed that was her, waiting for her daughter to bring her the money given to her by kind-hearted strangers.
On a normal day, it just happens I run into many beggars; and on most occasions I have to reason my way out of conflicting emotions, wondering if they’re just people trying to make easy money. I see many people walking past them, and even though I sympathize with the needy person-because some are genuine-I feel I can’t also blame those who don’t offer them help; those who just walk by, failing to acknowledge that there’s a sick or hungry person asking for help sitted on the dirty sidewalks; because their actions could be inspired by caution as opposed to egocentricity.
I realized at the end of the day one can’t tell the fakes from the genuine ones, so if I have anything to give I’ll just give it to anyone, hoping it’s one of the genuine ones, because if I said I wouldn’t help so I don’t get conned, I could be punishing a genuine beggar because of a fake one’s iniquities.