I was inspired last week by Rockstar Finance’s community fund project (site no longer exists). It’s an awesome project of enabling people to make a difference in their communities. I received a mail about it but was unfortunately too slow with my response and could not participate (although I was typing as fast as I could). I decided then to set aside a bit of my own money and just give it away to those less fortunate than me.
I set aside R250 (South African Rands) which equates to approximately $20 and to help put that into context; a nice cup of coffee is around R22, a decent bottle of wine R70, a loaf of bread R13 and a 1.5kg pack of apples around R24.
I really didn’t know how much to give individuals and set up a Twitter poll (@your_money_blog) but in the end I gave 2 people R100 each, and 1 person got R50.
Let me start by saying that it would have been easier doing this with someone else’s money. The reason is that I would then simply be a facilitator in the process and the focus would always be on the good being done and not on me nor my intentions. Writing now about how I’ve given people money brings the focus on me when really the whole point of this is to focus on the huge problem of immense poverty that we encounter daily in South Africa. There is a huge disparity between those who have money and those who don’t and it’s easy to see the problem and to ignore the individuals affected. It literally is impossible to help everyone I encounter each day and that often makes me feel like not helping anyone. It is bizarre logic I know, but I sometimes feel like the man in the “star fish story” and think that I’m wasting my time & energy.
An old lady approach me outside a shop the other day and asked if I would buy her some vegetables. I was a little annoyed at the time as I’d just had to replace my car tyre (after leaving work early with the intention of getting home early). So being hot & bothered (with really dirty hands) I wasn’t really in the mood to be nice to strangers. Whilst shopping though I realised again how privileged I am to be in a healthy financial situation and that I had specifically decided to help a few people.
I found her when I was done and chatted a bit and gave her R50. She was so lovely and hugged and kissed me and then started telling me her story. She’s 71 years old and is raising her 4 grandchildren off a measly state pension. Despite her hardship she seemed positive about the future and she was certainly proud of her grandchildren. I ended up giving her another R50 because she was just so lovely. That resulted in more hugs, kisses and even some low-budget recipes. If I see her again I will definitely stop to chat!
Tyre repair man
I went to have my tyre repaired over the weekend and the guy who assisted was really friendly and helpful. I know he has a job and is probably not in dire straits, but he sure was happy to receive R50. I didn’t ask his name and don’t know much about him but he seemed like a real decent guy just trying to make a living.
Random beggar at traffic lights
Today I purposely drove down a specific road to find a beggar that I see almost daily. He’s always got a huge smile and insists on a fist-bump from every driver (even if it’s through a closed window). I don’t know what his story is but simply looking at him it’s clear that life is really tough. I gave him R100; I really hope that it helps a bit!
I know I didn’t make any long term difference to any of these people, but sometimes it’s nice to just show some kindness to others and to recognise people’s situations and your own. No matter what your situation, remember to appreciate what you have!