when i came to afrika, i ‘knew’ that in addition to my personal mission – i also had this feeling that there was also going to be ‘work’ done on me. i didn’t necessarily know the what, how, when or why. but i intuitively knew that i had some things that i was going to have to deal with, learn from, advance into. so, my daily prayer or mantra is not only how can i be of service or a blessing to someone, but also what is it i need to learn or change about myself.
so. this blog is about one of those ‘work on self’ things.
one of the things i had been noticing for some time was my discomfort when i passed by…a street beggar, here in moshi, most seem to have physical or mental disabilities. are they faking the situation (we’ve all seen or heard of it happening). why are they there? should i give them a few shillings? if i speak to them, will they always expect me to? even the locals seem to avoid them! i was a bit skeptical, maybe cynical but still. uncomfortable. totally. i would pass them by and then feel….badly. REALLY.
i’m not alone, i’m sure, in asking the question…..what is the right thing to do in regards to the street beggars? we are conditioned and encouraged to avoid and ignore them. DON’T GIVE THEM MONEY, we are told. not only in the western world, but here in afrika as well. i want to walk by quickly while they rattle their cups, plead with their eyes, hold out their hands. i don’t want to look them in the eye. i don’t want to give them money – they might buy alcohol, drugs! maybe they have a family who is mis-using their situation to get money. and there is the language barrier as well – so i cannot even talk to them about what their story is.
daily in town, i would see men and women on the street, who for various reasons have resorted to a lifestyle of begging. no legs. blind. missing an arm. deformities of the back. every time i walked past them (quickly of course), my spirit would work on me, causing me to become more aware…and more uncomfortable with my discomfort. i asked questions of the locals trying to find some answers, some insight – always leading back to don’t give money, and rarely was there specific into on an individual). after months of this i finally came to a conclusion that regardless of what the common rules are or what ‘they’ say to do – on whether to give money, food, etc – we have a responsibility to our own heart, spirit and conscience ultimately. to listen, to follow.
one day, after walking (repeatedly over the months) by one particular street beggar – i felt my spirit nudge me to bring him some food (ya know what i mean?). ooookay. i decided i should do just that. a block or so away, i found a street mama that sold roast banana so i bought two (ndizi mbili), walked back to him and gave them to him with a few words of swahili – jambo, kaka. karibu chakula ( loosely : hello brother, you are welcome to this food). since then any time i’m in this particular part of town, i take him some ndizi. i dunno. he could be a great actor, pretending. he might make a good income at this (although i’ve never seen anyone give him money). a few ndizi doesn’t cost me much money. a few extra steps costs nothing, as does a chance to share a bit of kindness. and overcoming a hurdle (for me) and stilling the voice that previously chattered at me when i passed by quickly is priceless, as they say. haha, one day i bought a whole bunch of bananas and just gave them out to people along the way as i felt led to. sometimes it’s just the little things! maybe soon i’ll add someone else to my ndizi delivery!
i don’t fool myself by thinking this is a big thing. it’s two bananas every once in a while. this is not a survival meal for him! i am not able to help him move out of his situation since i don’t have a way to really know the story. all i am able to do is offer up some kind words, a bit of food.
but for now…..i think it’s one , just one, of the ways that afrika is working on me, to help make me a more open person, to see the world and people from a different lens, to heal issues that i wasn’t even aware of having, to shine just a bit brighter so that i can make the world around me a better place. i’m quite aware that those bananas might not even be just for him….i think they might be for me too.
one day at a time. slowly slowly. one person, two bananas at a time.
sending you love! enjoy life, be love. as always, i appreciate your love and support, more than you know!
PS: if you missed the last couple of fb photo albums….