Friday, February 22, 2013

back to giving.

last year i wrote some reflections on giving during lent. i had, and still do, struggled with what was the "right way" to give. money, food, clothes.


and, to be honest, my reflection stopped just about when lent was over. and even though begging and pleading and money-jars are thrust at me, i pushed my conflict to the back of my mind and stopped trying to figure it out.

until a few weeks ago a windshield washer, who i explicity told not to wash my windows, tried to wash my car windows. when i told him to stop, he took it personally.

"when we beg, you all hate us. when we steal, we're wrong. when we try to work for a living, you still won't help us."

the kid couldn't have been older than 16. he went on and on about how hard his life is and how difficult people make it for him.

and, it killed me. eventhough he was working to make a living, he couldn't force me to support him. my windows were clean and you can't mandate that people accept your services if they don't need them. and yes, i felt bad for him. he was out, late at night, washing windows trying to make money. no kid should have to put their life in danger to get a few bucks.

and that's what it is. no kid should have to do that.
i didn't feel bad for that particulary boy - his obstinance made me want to get out of the car and punch him in the face - but for all of the boys washing windows late at night. or shining shoes . or selling toilet paper door-to-door.

because kids should be in classrooms, not on street corners. they should be supported and loved by their families.

and sometimes. a lot of times, that's just not reality.
i could give every kid some pesos each time i see them working, but it's not going to fix their problem. it's not going to take them off of the street and into homes filled with people who have time and energy to spend with them. it's not going to make their lives any different than it already is.

the past few weeks have been packed. i'm busy, i'm tired, i'm bothered. i even landed myself in the emergency room on monday morning with shortness of breath and a good scare. and over and over again i've been faced with and reminded of the need that others around us has; pressed with how little that i, one lonely individual, can do to make it all better.

but, i've been reminded in all of this, that we are not alone. and that if we work together we can spark the motivation in others to do something as well. and just because 5 pesos seems like nothing, or my windows don't really need to be cleaned and i can't fix it all, 5 pesos might buy a snack to fill a belly, or pay for a pill that a family member needs. and my 20 minutes devoted to helping someone in need multiplied by all of the 20 minutes of everyone around us add up to a lot of time helping others.

this lenten season i've refocused and decided to meditate this all again. it's important to me. to settle my mind and look for direction with how to help, how to serve and how to share.


Jenny G. R. said...

I think the best thing is to carry food around with you. Once, I even gave a kid (where Bravo is now) a PBJ sandwich! He looked at it funny, but started munchin' on it! :D That way, you know they've eaten----------and the $$ isn't going to go to some 'pimp-boss or drugs. :D

melanie. said...

jenny - I do food a lot when I've got it. I do feel better about giving people food, but it's not always available, you know?

Anonymous said...

I totally understand what you’re saying. Even though we know that most of these people have a real need, sometimes it’s difficult to be understanding when they jump you because you didn’t give them what they want. I feel bad for the kid, he was probably having a bad day. Thankfully, it’s not always like that. I have come to the conclusion that there are different types of beggers (this is my own experience anyways). The always smiling and polite – they always thank you and wish you a nice day even when you don’t give them $. The very precise ones (sorry this makes me laugh) - Do you have $20 dollars? Can you give me a $1.49 to buy a coke at McDonalds? That’s what I call entrepreneurism! And then the not so nice and even aggressive- one time I gave $1 to this guy and he says to me “that’s all you’re giving me??? I know you have a lot of money!!! Keep cool...keep on walking...He knows not what he says....

Still, sometimes you do wonder what they are going to do with the $. Once an aboriginal man was begging for $ to go back home (many aboriginals in Canada live in dismal conditions on reserve so they flock to major urban centers). So I gently told him, if that’s real what you want, come with me and I will buy you a bus ticket. So away we went and I got him the ticket and he was so incredibly happy and thankful! It was a good day but I know that’s not always possible....And you’re right, when it comes to giving, it is a struggle...
On the other hand, you’re already doing a lot to help others. I really admire you. Good job!
Ana Quinta

Vada said...

This is cool!