Monday, February 20, 2006

Teach A Man to Fish

I was paying for my photocopied questionnaires after my clinics this afternoon when a man suddenly approached me and stretched out his hands asking for coins, "Barya lang po." I was really surprised by the outstretched hand so I looked up. I was even more surprised to see a middle-aged man, who looked clean and strong enough to work, asking me for coins! As a response, I gave him that don't-mess-with-me/i-wanna-kill-you look.

When I was turning around to go my way, he muttered, loud enough for me to hear, "Suplada! Kala mo naman sobrang ganda!" I wanted to turn around and shout back, "At least di ako kasing tamad mo!" But it was really beyond me to shout back even though I was dying to say a comeback. I couldn’t believe the nerve of that man.

So there, my entire day was ruined or what was left of it. I tried to think if he got a point. Was I really a bitch to him? Maybe. I just lost it when I realized what kind of man was asking for coins from me -- a very abled body. I had my reasons for giving him that look.

Since I was a child, I have never liked giving alms to beggars in the street. Don’t get me wrong. I do help people, teach street children, do charity but never give money outright to people whom I think can work. It started at that time I heard that line from my religion teacher which said, "Give a man fish and you feed him for the day but teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

That was why I just couldn’t believe the nerve of that man, first and foremost, to ask for money; secondly, to call me names when I didn’t give him what he wanted. Again, I just couldn’t believe him!

Just like I couldn’t believe those people who depend on TV shows for easy money, those who give money and think that is enough help to improve the poverty in this country, those who never went out there to teach their country men to fish, literally and figuratively.

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