Sunday, February 10, 2013

Helping the Helpless

It is not unusual to have beggars, even small children, come to me and ask for money or for food.  It is part of the religion here to give alms, so begging is very much a part of every day life.  There are some beggars that I recognize so I often give them a coin. If it is children who are begging and if I'm near a shop, I will buy them  a Solani (a yogurt drink) because I know it's nutritious for them.  A lot of the time I just joke with them and go on.  And often I just ignore them....sad, but true.

A conundrum for many missionaries here is what to do with the little boys called taalibey who beg for the m*sque.  If you give to them, they are expected to take what they receive back to their teacher who often keeps what he wants.  Some of the boys are treated quite harshly.  On the other hand, if we don't give to them we are ignoring a large section of the population who are really in need.  These boys are often orphans or children who live in a situation whose families cannot afford to feed them.  So they'll send them to the teacher who teaches them from the holy book, sends them out to beg, and provides a place for them to sleep, but who can't afford medical care for them unless they are really sick.  

So I didn't pay much attention to this little guy when he came up to me to beg.  I told him no, but then he said, "Look at my leg."  He pulled up his pant leg and he had a very nasty gash on his leg.  He said he had been running and fell.  It was not very clean and was a bit pussy.  So I took him home and cleaned his leg and put a band-aid on it.  He comes every day and gets it cleaned.  It's pretty painful for him, but he's brave and gets through it ok.  Today it was finally starting to look a bit better.

For privacy reasons I didn't show his face, but he's got a fabulous smile!

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