GIVING HELP TO OTHERS DOES NOT NECESSARILY
ENCOURAGE DEPENDENCE OR MENDICANCY
By Apolinario Villalobos
Food in any form is among the basic needs of man, as with clothing and shelter. In a dire situation, it is man’s resourcefulness that makes him survive. If he is in the countryside, he can survive by going to the field and pick edible leaves, shoots and fruits. If he is in the city, he can forage in garbage dumps for morsels that can somehow see him through the day. The innate survival instinct in man is so strong that given the chance, he does not need help from others. In other words, he does not ask for it. Help is extended voluntarily by others who are driven by their desire to extend a hand, as some kind of an advocacy. More so with the government, one mandate of which is the general welfare of the citizens.
In my experience of meeting many street dwellers, I learned that despite their impoverished condition, most often, pride prevails every time they are offered help, even suspicious of the giver’s intention. Living on sidewalks is not their primary desire. The deprivation of a decent habitation is due to its prohibitive cost. I met couples who live on sidewalks with the husbands working as messengers and security guards while the wives sell candies and cigarettes….which for me is a decent life. They told me that they are willing to rent but if they do, almost nothing would be left for their subsistence.
I have also met many people who go out of their way to set aside a good portion of what they earn to be shared with others. One of them are three women who would cook “pancit” on Sundays, apportion them in many small plastic bags, and using a borrowed single-motorcycle, two of them would scour the streets for beneficiaries – children and families who most often, are junk collectors who need to sell their finds at the end of the day before they can buy food. The three women are themselves, among the deprived city dwellers living under a bridge.
Of course, it cannot be denied that today, enterprising syndicates have made use of the impoverished in their racket. In this case, to be blamed should be these evil-minded, and not the victims who are threatened. The Badjaos from southern Mindanao who have invaded prosperous urban areas are another case, as for them, begging is part of their culture.
Finally, the program of the government in which qualified families are given cash assistance for the education of their children is also another thing. This assistance is in exchange for the commitment of the parents that the cash should be spent as expected and supported with several requirements. It should be noted that this assistance is “volunteered” by the government as its way of supposedly alleviating the lot of the poor. And, since, it is from the people’s tax, it is in a way, fair, though, unsavory remarks from some sectors pervade the air.
In closing, those who want to “feed” others should do it willingly, while those who hesitate due to doubts and apprehensions should not worry, for they can still pray for them…but quietly without the unnecessary remarks tantamount to discouraging others to do such act.