penhandling for a smile

I have been in the begging business for seven long years.

If you look at the word 'beg' you find the following synonyms: panhandle, ask for money, seeking charity, seek alms.. not very gratifying and yet that is what I have been up to. I have used every trick in my book to try and persuade people to open their purse strings and reach out to help another. I presume one could pun a little and substitute pen for pan! And if you wonder why I have been in this trade at a time when my peers play cards and attend hen parties, well simply because what is thrown in my pan somehow miraculously transforms it self in incredible smiles: the smile of a child without hope, of a child who for the first time has passed an exam, the child whose heart is now fixed...

It has been a bittersweet journey as often those who could give never did and those who could not were the most generous. These years of soliciting were replete with lessons of life, some disturbing and annoying and some overwhelming and moving.

A recent post sought help for our dear ghaziabad girls. One of the most touching offers was from someone who lives thousands of miles away and whom I have never met but feel I have always known. The reason I share this story here is that her gesture epitomises the essence of what giving means. It is easy to give when you have a lot to spare or when you get tax or other benefits such as your name on page 3! But when you give most of what has come your way after hours of toiling in spite of excruciating pain, then that gift is invaluable and cannot be matched by another.

I will just her words speak for her:

Please, please send me an address, to send money towards the girls care? As mentioned, I just received notice, that I am to be paid for a logo-design I made for a male musician's digital music business in the USA. He expects I will have this, on tomorrow or next day.. there is enough, for lee and for the girls!! I would love to help in this way, rather than send soap and things, the money could buy them there... please let me help them? Anou, I grew up in abject poverty; wearing panties with pins because they were my older sisters, handed down to me(3rd daughter).. I looked very much like those girls in the pictures... we were homeless once, and malnourished.. we were cold in winter, and lived on fresh berries, and root-vegetables in summer.... I know the pain of poverty, hunger, and the judgement on us by our community.. one does not forget their humble beginnings, so If my few dollars, will buy a box of bars of soap, or some much-needed supplies for the girls female needs.. I would be the lucky one to do this!! I'll be waiting for an address...

What can I say but that when that gift comes, I will hold it close to my heart and send a silent prayer of gratitude for having had the privilege of receiving such a gift.

In this world where money means all, there are still are people who show us that there is something far more important called love! A lesson many of us forget..