I am not a very charitable person but last year on January 1st, I devoted that one of my New Year resolutions would be to give charity.
This was partly because I felt like taking on another responsibility and so charity came to mind. I felt great every time I dropped a coin into a beggar’s hand the feeling that you have made someone’s life a little bit better is invincible.
One bright morning I walked on the busy streets of Kigali. Music was booming from one electronic shop, motor engines surges and car horns hooted all around me. Vendors raised their voices as they called onto customers to buy their cheap merchandise while on the other side of the road a shoe-shiner went about his business.
As I walked the streets my attention was captured by one TIGO poster of some pretty-looking girls with great smiles that made me envious. Then, I heard someone call me, “bosi!” I turn around to see who it was and it was a rather helpless-looking beggar. Obviously, I had bypassed him without noticing his presence.
Here is a beggar, raising his dry hands towards me. The man looked so thin and dark with his pale eyes. Honestly I was hit by compassion and quickly checked my pockets. Thankfully there was enough balance from my taxi ride, about Rwf400. I dropped it all into his hands. Definitely I felt a hint of responsibility because, ‘it is rare that people do what I just did,’ I told myself.
The following week as I ran my errands around town, I meet the same man on the street but this time, he was in a different corner of the city with a bowl of two or three coins in it. It was about midday.
Sympathy always hit me whenever I saw this old man on the streets begging.
My conscience told me the coins in the bowl are all he had gotten all day. ‘Why not give him more,’ I thought and dropped in Rwf1000.
He then blesses me endlessly. Who would not feel important when such an old man thanks you so much when other people are watching you as you give away your money?
To tell you the truth I had plans for that money but I undeniably felt the need to drop something in an old man’s bowl. Besides it was my 2011 resolution.
Three days later, after the charity deeds I bestowed upon this beggar, I walked around one of the lower-end city suburbs with a friend who lives around that place. I noticed a beautiful car (RAV4) parked outside a nice-looking house. I call it beautiful because it was not fit to be placed in that area.
“Nice car and house in a bogus place,” I said. “Ha-ha” my friend laughs.
‘Why is this fool laughing at me?’ I thought to myself and ignored his laughter.
“Nimwe bavuze” (you are the people they talk about), is all I got from him.
“You have eyes but you don’t see, that house and car belong to one of the conmen in town who is a beggar on the streets,” he laments.
“Nooooo, it can’t be!” I replied. I knew no beggar can build such a house, let alone drive a four-wheel-drive.
“Eiisshhh…,” jeered my friend.
He went ahead and assured me that the man has been in business (begging) with his bowl for over sixteen years. His description exactly suited the man I usually throw my coins to. Rumour even has it that he even has daughters at campus! I was shocked!
Worst of all, after the long assurance, I remembered that I had no sugar at home! Nevertheless, I swore to God that I would always help a needy person but never give my money to any beggar.