Begging the IssueMarch 23rd, 2012
Been walking the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for five days now.
What to do with the beggars? They are everywhere, sitting in their misery with hands stretched out. Some blind, some deaf, others with deformed limbs, swollen extremities and missing appendages… others hunchback bent over double, some old and toothless, some women young with baby. It’s all quite disturbing.
“Give to the one who asks you,” Jesus said (Matthew 5:42). Is holding ones hand out considered as asking? Because if it is, walking down the street here is a full time job in giving.
For the beggars I feel sympathy and compassion, but also feel sick they’re forced to trade dignity for food. Saw a young guy today who looked healthy except for one leg was deformed. He was begging. I got angry. Why do you want me to treat you as charity? Why give up your dignity when you could fight your handicap? I know, easy for me to say.
I found out about a program here in Addis that offers reduced priced meals. You can buy meal tickets to this ministry (Hope Enterprise) for 1 birr each (about 6 US cents). I’ve bought several hundred of them – seems to be a handy thing to give out to beggars. Sometimes they don’t know what I’m giving them and look confused – I try to explain. Other times, they look excited.
But the needs don’t stop with beggars. Let’s talk street kids. I could talk stats, and I saw online an estimate of 50,000 in Addis, but it hits home closer when you meet them.
Filthy. Tattered rags. Skinny. Sores. Walk beside you, point to their bare feet, their scanty clothing, ask you to do something. You do something, they want you to do more somethings. Where does it stop? I can’t help them all. Can I even help some?
I’ve met people in Addis. People on the street. Randomly got plugged into a group of college kids. They want me to start a non-profit sponsorship ministry for street kids. One of them grew up as an orphan. He’s married now with a baby boy. He wants to partner with me to help street kids.
I’ve been in Addis five days.