Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Objecting to my objections...

Hi, I need a loan of GH 500 & would
be pay back in 2 month time
any person who can help should
call me on (phone number given) for information
Ad seen in The Weekly Donkomi, October 1- October 14, 2008
(spelling and grammer left as seen)

Writers block or laziness? Not even sure which one I should 'pin' my silence on - perhaps a combination of both. Have opened the new post page numerous times and just cannot decide what or how to write. Just gave in today and decided to go with my stream of consciousness.

Had a strange run in with a beggar yesterday that left me questioning her motives and my response. She seems to be new on the scene, or at least at this location. Driving to and from work you begin to recognize the human landmarks that associate with particular stoplights in the city. Usually the stoplight by the intersection of the Osu Cemetery - State House - the Kingdom Bookshop road (I have no idea of the name of the road) is usually a hassle free zone. Over the past couple of days however there has been a middle aged lady who has begun to frequent the area.

Yesterday while waiting for the lights to change to green, I noticed her working her way down the line of cars. As she approached mine the usual million and one things crossed my mind:
  • another beggar, argh, ok assume the position - head straight, eyes fixed on the road;
  • she is a fellow woman, do I give in and give ?
  • it's ok to let her pass, after all I do my dues; am the member of a service club and I know at least where that money that I contribute goes - that should absolve me from not giving now.
Anyway, decided I wouldn't give. I nodded politely, and firmly shook my head indicating no. She objected to my objections. She then proceeds to berate me, finger wagging and all! She then decided to move on (thankfully!) and then she turns around again, asks me again. To which I said no again - more berating and finger wagging. Thought about it for a while and wondered if a couple of peswas was worth not being berated.

The more I thought about it the more I asked myself myself, why shouldn't I reserve the right to object without feeling guilty? If I made a list of persons that had 'begged' me in the past week how much that would have amounted to? Less by way of financial cost and more emotionally. To be honest I find it tiring to always be in a situation where someone's hand is always out streched, either literally or figuratively.

That being said there are some persons that I will help - either because I understand their situation and can genuinely see that they do need help. Or even sometimes to someone I do see begging on the road and feel moved to help. I however object to giving simply because I have been asked.

Perhaps I should do what one of my friends now does - she buys sardines in bulk at the supermarket and when asked for money she just gives the person one. Makes sense doesn't it?

The most creative request that I have seen for 'help' though is the one posted by the Sakumono stop light. It indicates that a 'young, handsome man' is in need of help and would like to become a houseboy so he can finish school. The sign then clearly states that ladies - note not families, or persons - who are interested to call him - number given of course. No, will not do my investigative journalist approach this time around.


Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Denise, I go through the yes-no, yes-no turmoil everyday, just as you described it. Too many times I have buckled under the 'pressure'. Hey, you forgot another option as they approach. They dirtier or more violent looking ones make you want to roll up quickly but discreetly. And about sardines, well, beggars usually want money and nothing else. So be careful or you'll see a tin smash your windscreen into smithereens.

Denise said...

Nana Yaw, have now adopted just keeping my windows up at all times - I shudder about what is does to my petrol bill, but yes, makes life easier.
Hmmm, will keep in mind the dangers of sailing sardine tins!

Emmanuel.K.Bensah II said...

I like that--"new to begging". WHat has the world come to...

Still, liked your post. Very worthy, and relevant. You cannot be forced to give all the time, and you should not feel guilty when a beggar becomes angry with you for not giving. Not at all!!

As for the sardine enterprise, food-for-thought--both literally and metaphorically!!

The Evangelist said...

Hey there!

I am glad that I came across your blog!

You are NOT obligated to give to every single person who has a need or to every single person who asks you to give...God will tell you which persons He has chosen for you to give to...other people you encounter will be those that God has chosen for others to give to and you do not need to feel guilty about that. Leave it in God's hands to direct those He has chosen to give to that person.

I am a clergywoman in the U.S. and will be coming to Accra in November to serve the Lord and to start a nonprofit that will address the needs of women and children in Ghana! There are MANY U.S.-based organizations in Ghana that have done so much and I know that there is more that can be done!

Thank you for this blog!


Denise said...

Hi Emmanuel, it does seem as if there are more beggars on the streets than there was when I just moved. Its also a bit worrying to see that increasingly more children are joining the 'trade' - either with their parents or on their own. That does make me want to do something - but yes, the question remains what?

Denise said...

Hi Paul, welcome. I had a discussion along similar lines with a pastor who works at my offices. His take was also that I will be 'guided' in terms of who to give. I guess I will recognize that point/time when it happens?
You are right - there are many NGOs here in Ghana, alas, alas they don't always seem to do what they profess to be doing. That being said (and as you rightly observed) there is still a lot to be done.

Best of luck with your plans - as I noted in my comment to Emmanuel, women and children are increasingly making up the numbers of beggars and street people - it would be great if something tangible could be done to help them.

posekyere said...

Hi Denise!

I like your attitude immensely.
I live by the promptings of the inner voice (some call it intuition). If it does not feel right within, my hands stay put otherwise I give.
Howevere I have realized that some days there seems to be an avalanche of requests for help. Could it be because some of these perpetual takers have perfected the art of reading the body language of a potential giver?

Denise said...

Hi Posekyere - its has been a long time. I actually missed you! Welcome back. I hope all is well.
I will agree that body language does say and play a lot in the decision to approach or not to approach - not only with beggars, but also street sellers as well. Need a crash course on the art of remaining impassive I guess.

Maya said...

Hi Denise,

Just like you, I follow my intuition, meaning a beggar can be lucky on one day and unlucky the next. What I can't understand is why they ever feel the right to berate you?! I once had a gypsy/romer insult me in her language (granted I couldn't understand, but I know when I'm being insulted) because I gave her £0.20 when she could see £1 coins in my purse. The cheek!

On another note, please, please go attempt some investigative journalism, let's at least find out how handsome he is!