Those who have followed my blog have read about my dilemma about giving to beggars. I do believe in helping those in need, but I don't really like to encourage begging. In America, I fear that any money I give will go toward buying drugs or alcohol. In China, it is much more complex of a problem because while I know people are poor, I have been told that most beggars have a "handler", and that the money they get doesn't go to themselves, but to the handler. I try to take it on a case by case basis. If they are rude to me or grab me, or force their way in to my personal space, I tend to ignore them. I really still haven't come to a full decision about how to deal with beggars on the whole. I do give money to those less fortunate than myself, but I usually do it through the church, in a way that I know the money is being used for needs, not for drugs or alcohol. But once in awhile I feel like giving, so I do.
The other day we went out to eat in a nearby shopping area. We didn't eat all the food, so asked for boxes to take home the leftovers. We left the restaurant, and were headed to our car when a man holding a small child approached me. He came up and said, "Excuse me, but could I have your leftovers to feed my child?" I didn't even have to think twice about handing over the food. Then as we were handing it over, he mentioned that he was from the country, and hadn't been able to find a job since he came to the city. He said, "I'm not a typical beggar, I don't normally just ask for money." I asked my husband if he had any change, and my husband gave him a few small bills. We had good intentions of helping this man who seemed to be genuinely in need.
It was after we handed the man the money that I began to doubt his sincerity. He took the bills and examined them carefully, with a look on his face that showed displeasure at the amount he had been given. By chinese standards, what we had given wasn't a small amount. His facial expression spoke volumes to me, and I could tell that he had deceived us. It occurred to me that he would probably throw away the food as soon as he left us. I also began thinking about how he looked too old to be the father of that child, but too young to be his grandparent. But I knew that my intentions were right, and I decided to let God judge between me and him. My intentions were right in wanting to help.
Or I could be wrong. Maybe he really did need the money and food. Maybe I misunderstood the look on his face. We stepped inside a shop for a moment, and when we came back, the man was gone, but there was a security guard there looking for him. I will never know if that man was truly in need, or was a professional beggar. I will really never know if his intentions were good or not. But I know that mine were.
Our other consortium members are surely full of good intentions. Check out their blogs to see!
Rummuser, Anu, Ashkok, Gaelikka, Grannymar, , Padmum, Magpie11, andAkanksha,Will Knot, Maria the Silver Fox, Anki, Nema Noor Paul Plain Joe, and Rohit, Black watertown, The Old Fossil, our newest member MAXI! and last, but not least SHACKMAN! :)