No matter where you go, there are always people who are struggling just to make it through the day. From living in a country where work is scarce to just being dealt a bad hand during the layoffs at a company, someone always has it worse. This man remembers a time from his childhood when he didn’t exactly understand what it meant to be poor. He didn’t understand what sacrifice truly was, but after witnessing the smallest gesture, he soon discovered just how much that “small” action really meant.
When I was about 6 years old I lived in Kenya. There was a lot of poverty and there were always street children on the roads asking for money. There was such a big divide between those children and me and I grew up very aware of being so fortunate.We had a wonderful and very kind driver, John, who had been working with my family for decades. He used to take us to and from school. One day we had to take a detour on the way to school and whilst we were stopped in traffic a young street child, probably no more than 10 years old, called out with a friendly greeting. “Jambo, John!”He approached the car and shook John’s hand. John then gave him a little bit of money and waved him off with a smile before we carried on our way to school.I had watched the whole incident from the back seat completely surprised. I knew that John worked very hard to make ends meet. He had a large family himself. We were always sending packets or rice and fruit and other snacks and clothes for his family and I knew that he didn’t have any spare money. So, of course, at that age I couldn’t understand why he would be giving money to the child.
“Who was that I asked?” I asked.“My friend,” he replied, “I see him every morning on my way to work and I give him a little bit of money.”Still unable to comprehend I asked, “Why do you have to give him money every morning?”John replied, “So he can use it to buy some food.”It was probably in that moment that I understood what kindness really was. Someone who was in a difficult situation themselves still found some money to spare for a child who needed it. Even at the age of 6 that had such a profound impact on me. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I didn’t have any money, but I wanted to contribute too.Every Friday we would have dinner at my grandparents’ house and, after dinner, my grandfather would give us a chocolate bar when my mum wasn’t looking. I would save mine up so I could give it to John to give to his friend.
He wasn’t able to do very much at only 6 years old, but even at such a young age, he learned the value of sacrifice and what it would mean to the young boy who daily begged for food. He didn’t know the child’s backstory or why he was begging each day, but he knew that he could help…even if it was only a candy bar. We don’t know what happened to John, or the impoverished boy, but we know that the young child grew up to be a man that never forgot the true meaning of benevolence and compassion.
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