One eye tightly shut and the other half awake, he lies on a bed of earth, dust and pebbles.Covering his body are two pieces of rugged asymmetrical clothing completed with uncombed hair, flaky skin and bare feet. His feeble lower limbs crossed one over the other, his body leaning on his right side while his stretched left hand holds an empty cup. This pavement opposite the busiest round about in town has become his second residence. In terms of comfort it is the last place that one would fancy spending their day but for him it is where he finds solace after sun rise. Puffing-in the pungent grey smoke from aged exhaust pipes, tolerating the noise from the honking horns of over populated public buses and the occasional near miss from the bike riders he seems right at home. This man is a representation of the disadvantaged members of the community; the beggars. One of the many failures of market economies.
With the festive season upon us, It is the time for sharing and giving. A time that even the meanest of creatures would dig deep in their pockets and fill the empty cups of beggars. Not me, not today! I looked at his stretched cup from a distance and when I got closer I just walked past as it brushed my garments. His pleading voice and pitiful eyes did not stir my heart. Like Lucifer I felt no mercy for the poor creature. I had no regret for my actions and felt no remorse. I had made an acquaintance with this particular beggar in more than one occasion and I was a little more familiar than your average passer by. I make a living in a building that stands opposite his place of business. I say his place of business not in error.
To understand my actions one needs to understand my grief. Until recently I was the gullible passer by that was willing to part with my hard earned cash as I filled this particular beggar’s cup in the hopes of giving him a better day. One afternoon not so long ago while walking back from work I witnessed a life changing moment that defined the way I choose to give. I saw the beggar that I had believed to be crippled stand up on his own two feet, wipe off the dust on his clothes getting ready to depart. He lowered his gaze as our eyes met. I was paralyzed out of surprise, so was he. Earlier that day I had kindheartedly given him the left over change from my lunch allowance believing that he was incapable of supporting himself. The next day he didn’t show up in his usual place. It was not until after a fortnight had passed that I saw his sorry figure back on the pavement. He had shamelessly returned to his place of work. He dares not look me in the face anymore nor does he stretch his cup in my presence.
Begging is becoming a new profession in the city. All the shameless lazy sods that want to make easy money are rushing to fill up the vacancies while the unsuspecting few are being emotionally black mailed into feeling guilty for not giving. It’s not these pretend beggars that we should be feeling sorry for but the good Samaritans that are being swindled out of their hard earned cash every waking day. The good fellows that stop and drop a coin or two with every brush of a cup.
What professional beggars don’t understand is that by putting on an act they are unfairly putting those that really require the aid at a disadvantage. As it becomes increasingly difficult to sieve the pretenders from the genuinely in-need the public will become more stringent to giving which will offset the good work done by genuine people willing to help the needy.
As the festive season knocks, take caution and give wisely to make sure that your aid is actually making a difference. I have chosen to support charities in the form of sponsorship and regular donations there are number of other ways to give.
Some Charities that I give to:
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