Sunday, 23 October 2011
To Give or Not to Give?
Beggars are a fact of life world-wide but more so in developing countries like South Africa. Of course, not much has changed here since 1994, we have just swopped one bunch of fat-cats for another and the gap between rich and poor has got wider. As a result, we barricade ourselves into our homes to escape the poor who roam our streets often looking for a chance to rob us or at least hoping to find something life-sustaining in our dustbins. One can't blame them: often their desperation is related to drug addiction - the narcotics are so cheap and freely available on our streets. Charity organisations abound and they tell us not to give cash to individuals but to make our donations directly to them. Sometimes though one's conscience pricks when there is yet another ring at the bell and we listen to another heart-breaking sob story. I find that I give according to my mood, whether I am in a hurry and whether I have any cash on me. Sometimes, I have believed the request for food and made a sandwich for the suppliant. Sometimes, I have seen this thrown into the nearest bush. What to do? The thing is if we could contain the problem one might feel more optimistic, but as things are we have refugees from the rest of Africa pouring over our borders every day. So we just save for electric gates around our retirement home.