Teaching Charity – It begins at home and in the hawker centre

I have always believe that charity should begin at home. To me, compassion, empathy, charity are not about who can donate the most or about championing cool causes. I have a wide definition of charity and it’s not always about giving big amounts of money. Sometimes, it’s about being graceful about a someone’s difficult situation is being charitable or using a service you don’t need.

For example, those tissue ladies with obviously arthritic knees walking with  bowlegged legs between the food centre tables. Do you or do you not buy 4 packets for $1? Even when you are aware at worst case scenario, these people could have been dropped off by a syndicate who uses them to pull on your heart strings and buy obviously overpriced recycled newspaper? For $1, I decided I can live with that possibility and I reason, these people obviously earn something or else why would they do it. So I discriminately choose my recipients… if you look :

– not mentally challenged

– not over 65

-not physically disabled

Sorry, I don’t buy.  Even with no skills, you should be able to get a job doing something… the last coffeeshop I went to, there was a recruitment notice:

Cook : $1200


Dishwasher: $1700

So if you are willing to get your hands dirty, then you can earn even more than a cook!  (Although it takes so much more skill to whip up a dish! )

So, the first time I bought my overpriced tissue paper when B was with me, this was roughly how the conversation went:

B: How come you are buying tissue when there are 2 packets in your bag?

M: Well, you look at the old lady – do you think she is as old as Popo?

B nods.

M: Imagine, would you feel sad if Popo had to go around selling tissue paper because she had no money to buy food? And maybe her leg hurts and she can’t work at a normal job?

B: That would be bad. Then why don’t you just give her the money?

M: Because you might hurt her feelings then. When we buy her tissue, she feels good that she has sold something. So not only does she get the money but she feels good about herself. She is not begging for money. She is selling something.

(This was my way to introducing the concept of dignity to her)

M: But, you know, we can try give her a bit more in another way. When we buy her tissue, we give her a $2 note and then we tell her that there’s no need for her to return the change, okay?



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