The question of ‘who to be generous to?’, is very important. I mean you cannot call yourself a philanthropist when you apportion a certain percentage of your monthly earnings as a gift to Bill Gates. You might as well fetch water in a bucket and throw it into the sea once in a while and walk away feeling proud you have been of great help to mother nature. Also the motives behind an individual’s kindness to another is very important. In the sense that, one’s philanthropic actions should be done solely with the aim of helping others, making their lives more bearable and not for fame or personal conceit. Whoever is generous with the latter motive in mind, will soon grow weary when recognition is not forthcoming. Timing is of the essence in every venture. Help offered a minute after the help is needed is totally a nuisance, especially if it was a life or death situation. Lastly, one would like to consider what it is he is offering to help somebody in his time of trouble. What to give should always be an issue of what the giver has and not necessary what the receiver requires. In the sense that, I should be able to give you the best I can come up with not necessary the exact amount or quantity you are demanding. When the best I can give you is the whole amount you require and I decide to withhold some, and hand you just a portion of it, that’s when I am not being generous. Funny enough this is often the case. There are people who can do a lot for many people, within their power, that will change lives all around them but choose not to. This attitude shouldn’t be encouraged at all.
The twist to this whole issue is, some people do not make it easy for you to be of help to them. Even worse, some people do not make it easy for you to be of help to anybody else at all. I am talking specifically about the beggars we encounter on the pavements in our cities and the confidence tricksters who walk up to us in town . If you’ve had a bad experience with any of them as I have, you will certainly find it difficult to give any more. Before I give you an account of my bad experiences with confidence tricksters, I would like to say that, sometimes we are simply not allowed by our conscience to give. In the sense that, one may come across an alcoholic or an outwardly visible drug addict who seems to need money to buy food. The conscience of a well-meaning individual will certainly present a dilemma to him. This is because one may not know whether his money will be a contribution to worsening the plight of the individual or not. In such cases, it requires a high level of discernment to ascertain whether to give or not.
Anyway, now to my bad experiences. So one day, I was in my hostel room with my roommate, Abotsi, we heard a knock on the door and he went to see who it was. I realized he was interrogating the person so I decided to have a peep at who it was. Only to realize it was a little boy, in his school uniform asking for money because he had misplaced a contribution his class had made towards buying something, that he was supposed to keep. Apparently my roommate had a hunch that he was lying, I thought he was being harsh to him initially. Only to realize how gullible I was when the little boy finally admitted he was lying. This is enough reason to discourage the most generous person from giving any more. Secondly, once I had been given money to buy something for myself I had the exact amount on me as I went to town. A shabby looking guy, walked up to me, claiming he knew me. Then he asked which SHS I attended (first hint that he was fake), then he started mentioning nicknames of people who attended my school. Some of them were true some weren’t, nevertheless that experience was convincing enough to unveil the mother Theresa in me. With Dan Brown’s prowess in storytelling, our dear friend narrated the most pathetic story ever, about how he lost both of his parents. I couldn’t give him the whole amount he demanded for, but I gave him some. After thanking me like I had saved the world, I walked away feeling good just then I turned around I realized he had disappeared into thin air. I then thought I had been duped, but I brushed the thought off. I got home and decided to narrate the incident to my elder brother, he put his two hands on his head and said this very guy approached him sometime back with the same tactics. But my elder brother, didn’t yield to the trickster’s persuasive speech. Right there and then, I felt very bad and discouraged from giving to beggars. Just last week, this same guy approached me, and asked which school I attended, I intentionally told him PRESEC. Here we go again! He went on and on with names and jargons apparently known to PRESEC students. After narrating the sad story again, I told him about our first encounter and that of my brother’s . The look on his face though. I walked away right after he was bold enough to thank me for being generous to him the previous time (as if he knew no shame).
I would like to conclude by asking, ‘shall we decline an opportunity to help a genuinely needy person because of our past bad experiences?’ Isn’t that equal to the lady who said she wouldn’t marry because her first boyfriend broke her heart or the chap who vowed to stop drinking water because his friend drowned in the sea? I believe both scenarios have a common underlying feature. It is very wrong to assume there are no real needy people out there because of the few fraudulent ones. Let’s continue to give and give unconditionally, for one day we shall reap the tremendous benefits of our philanthropy.