My husband Grant has written some great thoughts about how to help people when you live in a place that can overwhelm you with need – a place like Mexico, a place like our neighborhood. I think he nailed it! What do you think?
Sick of being asked for a handout every day? I wrestle constantly when I encounter people with needs looking for a handout—whether it is the guy with no legs on a hand peddle cart, or the woman with deformed legs being pushed in a wheel chair, or the woman and child begging on the bridge, or the guy yelling “hey mister how about today?” or “Can you loan me some money?” I constantly ask myself….”how much today? How much tomorrow? The change in my pocket?” “Do these people make more that the average person working at an average job in Mexico?”
Then there all the charities and the organizations—the ones for animals, for children, for seniors, for the handicapped, for orphans, for schools/kindergartens, for Christmas, for nature, for wildlife.….
And of course the special circumstances—”need money to go to my mother’s funeral, to have an operation, to buy a uniform for school, a dress for kindergarten graduation”, ……
When there are no social safety nets these questions will never go away. So I have narrowed it down to a few questions/thoughts for myself:
- Will supporting this change a life profoundly? Or will the need always be there, never corrected? A medical operation that will allow someone to see, or to hear that now cannot—that is life changing. A surgery to rebuild the body so that it can work again is correcting a bad situation that will not repeat itself.
- How responsible does this person need to be to correct this situation? Or are they a victim of things beyond their control? Giving to the wino or drug addict probably will assist them in not hitting bottom and being forced to change their life and get help. Giving to the orphanage that cares for abused and abandoned kids, who are in no way responsible for where they have found themselves may definitely help correct a bad situation. Giving to the kids forced by their parents to sell on the beach and streets so they do not have to work or because they want to buy alcohol – that is a mess—give the kids food and support an organization that gets kids off the street and into school.
- If I help this person are they of a character to give back in the future to others or will what I give be wasted to no end, and will the need be perpetuated by lack of personal responsibility? Helping the mother that has repeatedly abandoned her kids leaving them hungry will not solve the problem. Reporting the problem to DIF (social services) may correct the problem. Supporting the relatives or organization that helps the kids also is very useful.
- If I don’t give money, will this person find another way to meet the need? Don’t be the quick easy answer to someone else’s struggle. Maybe give them a small job so they don’t fall into begging…. or stealing….
- Is there something here that will give me or others great personal satisfaction? Will seeing the child in the kindergarten dress (that looks like a wedding dress) give me happy memories and a feeling of satisfaction? Buy it. If not don’t.
So this is what I have decided:
- Give the change in my pocket randomly to those who seem to be in a retracted long term need. ie. The guy with no legs, the crippled woman, etc.
- Give what costs me little to the one that will probably squander it soon. ie. An old pair of beach shoes to the addict with no shoes. An old bed to the person who lost their’s from being kicked out of the last house for not paying rent…..
- Save my larger amounts for those in legitimate emergencies or for those that will experience a profound life change. Profoundly changing a life gives me great satisfaction…that’s when its time to give.
- Organizations that make profound change in the lives of those who do not deserve to be where they are get the long term support.
I would love to hear your thoughts as to how you deal with this yourself. Please comment and share….
Currently there is one life that I am working hard at helping change. He was born profoundly deaf to a young single mother and a system that has no means to help him. No fault of his own, and giving can make a profound difference. Without a cochlear implant this profoundly deaf child has no hope of a regular normal life. Put in an orphanage by his grandmother as he has become too hard to handle, and not even the resources to get to a school for the deaf. With an implant and a couple years of speech therapy this child becomes like any other with a hope for the future….and a much higher likelihood that he will then want to give back when he can. Please check his story—www.youcaring.com/gaelsgiftofhearing