Today’s Daily Prompt urges one to think about a time when they should have helped someone but they did not …
When I read that, my mind flashbacked to an incident that happened to me in the last few weeks.
As mentioned in a previous post, I have recently come back from a wonderful trip to Yemen. Amazing as this journey was, one cannot escape the fact that Yemen is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the Arab world; a reality you forget when your stay happens to be in the comfort of an air-conditioned Villa, owned by the middle class relatives you are visiting.
This meant that for a short while, I was obscured from the truth that is the severe poverty in Yemen. But whether I liked it or not, I eventually saw this poverty, in its various forms, with my very own eyes, for the first time, in a long time. All I had to do was step out of the abovementioned Villa and there it was.
It is impossible to walk or drive around the streets of Yemen without being stopped several times, by beggars, asking for money and this is exactly what happened to me. It was a little girl, she must have been around 12 or so. I don’t know how to describe her except to say that she looked exhausted and almost betrayed by life. She asked me for money and honestly I did not have a single penny on me to give her.
It was not like I refused to help, I wanted to but did not have the money. That said, I was in a mini bus full of distracted, chattering people whom I could have asked for some spare coins. But, I did not and till this day I don’t know why I didn’t.
Was it because I knew that if I were to give this one money, the chances were our vehicle would be flooded by all her friends asking for money too? Or was is because I had it drilled in me, by the locals, that by giving these people money, you are not helping them at all, rather you are encouraging a bad habit, one that is damaging to society; begging.
Was I simply in denial that I was actually helping this child by not giving her money?
I don’t know.
She was certainly disappointed that I had nothing to give. I saw her eyeing my camera with interest though and so asked her if she wanted me to take a photo of her. She said nothing but did not move away from my window, almost waiting expectantly, so I snapped a couple of shots of her. Although she did not smile for the picture per se, I saw her grinning shyly as she walked away.
In the end, I told myself, that even though I gave her nothing, I did make her smile, and hopefully, that was something …