Everyone Needs a Little Help Sometimes

Alexis Lenderman
Majors: Entrepreneurship and Nonprofit Leadership
University of Cape Town, South Africa

You know what the greatest high in the world is???

Doing something for someone else. On my way home after eating at Coco Wah Wah, I saw a group of homeless men/women standing on the corner near Woolies and I went into McDonalds and I bought a share pack for only R140 (less than $10). It came with 4 burgers, 4 fries and a 10 piece of chicken nuggets and 4 drinks! I went up to the them and handed it out and they were SO happy.

Share pack from McDonalds - only R140 (less than $10)! Photo Credit: Alexis Lenderman
Share pack from McDonalds – only R140 (less than $10)!
Photo Credit: Alexis Lenderman
4 burgers, 4 fries, 4 waters Photo Credit: Alexis Lenderman
4 burgers, 4 fries, 4 waters
Photo Credit: Alexis Lenderman

THEN as I was walking home (again) I was going to post that incidence on FB (as an awareness so that other people need to stop acting like homeless people are NOT people and treating them like they are invisible) I was stopped by a man named Tony.

Tony looked about 30 years old and the look on his face was like all life had been sucked out of him and if it weren’t for his son, he would have no reason to keep going on. He told me about how he doesn’t want my money, he only wants something to eat because he’s been out here all day asking for someone to please help him and everyone walks past and ignores him.

I stood there and listened to him until he was done talking and I said “Where do you wanna eat at? What sounds good?” He was COMPLETELY surprised that I said that. I could tell by the look on his face that no one has asked him that before (which that is exactly what he told me a few minutes later). As we were walking back towards Woolies, he told me that he wanted something to take home to his son and all the fast food places are too expensive. So, I asked him if he would like to go to Pick n Pay (the local grocery store) and get what he needs. He asked me what his budget was and I told him 200-300R. Then he asked if he could spend 200R and take a 100R so that he can pay for the shelter for the week? I said sure!

We walk into Pick n Pay and I saw a new life come out of Tony, it was like he was a human again – having a conversation about something other than begging. While we were walking around the store, he was telling me about his son and how he has bipolar and the doctors put him on a medication that can put him to sleep for hours and how he doesn’t like for him to be on that. As of right now, they are staying in a halfway house where they are also trying to help him get back on his feet.

It was funny the things that we talked about – I learned that the Reeses and Kit Kats taste different here and are smaller and other silly things like that.

I let him pick out all the things that he needed and its funny because we shop the same way – finding the best deals and spending as least as possible and buying off-branded items.

Once we got to the check out line, I helped him unload the basket and he must of forgotten something because he RAN to the hygiene isle. While he was gone, the cashier said with an attitude “Are you paying for all this for him?” I said (with an attitude back), “Yes!”

Tony came back a few seconds later with some deodorant and lotion. The total came up to R413.38 which is about $27. JUST that LITTLE bit of money and someone taking the time to LISTEN to him changed his WHOLE day and possibly his week!

Receipt from Pick n Pay Photo Credit: Alexis Lenderman
Receipt from Pick n Pay
Photo Credit: Alexis Lenderman
Receipt from Pick n Pay Photo Credit: Alexis Lenderman
Receipt from Pick n Pay
Photo Credit: Alexis Lenderman

BUT after we got out of Pick n Pay, he told me that he is actually a chef by trade and he’s worked for cruiseliners and restaurants and he’s trying to find a job now. I told him that I can try and help him out with that because I am really good at resumes and I would look into making him some business cards. I just needed him to send me his certifications and information and a secure address to mail the cards to.

Moral of the Story – PLEASE take a few minutes out of your day and help the homeless get some of their dignity back and feel like a human again. We can all do our parts.

If God gave you a few extra dollars this week, then think about spending it on someone else OR even if he Didn’t give you extra, just know that you will be rewarded in the end.

Cape Town has over 7,000 homeless people, and this can be lowered drastically if everyone can pitch in. Not even to just buy food, but to get to know them and offer your skills to make a difference in their lives.

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