[notice]A monthly column on purpose, passion and power in Jesus.[/notice]
Years ago I interviewed a top Government official from the Eritrean Government. Eritrea had just passed legislation that stopped free aid to its country. I was horrified! How could such a poor country stop aid that was “helping” its people!
“This free aid is not helping our people!” The Government official said to me. “We’re not stopping aid completely. But, what we have said to aid organisations is we want our people to WORK in exchange for what they receive.”
At the time I didn’t understand this official — but today — how I wish more government officials all over the world stood for this principle. We live in a world that encourages poverty, feeds it and perpetuates it. We think it’s benevolent to “give” to people we feel “don’t have” — it’s not. We’re crippling them even further.
Few traffic lights in South Africa are void of beggars. They’re multiplying every day because people think it kind to give them money.
The car washing young man
I’d gone to the labour office the other day — when I got back to my car it’d been washed super clean. The young man who’d washed it was still cleaning my tyres — I didn’t have money with me and said to him, “Thank you so much my car really needed that wash! But my brother you should’ve asked me. You’ve done such a great job! But I don’t have money to pay you!”
“It’s ok ma’am,” the young man said. And he told me he still wanted to finish cleaning my tyres. I could’ve cried at his diligence! I couldn’t leave without paying for his great service! I searched every nook and cranny of my bag and car — I gathered everything I had, but still it wasn’t enough. I gave him what I’d managed to find — but I still felt I owed him proper pay for his splendid job!
I didn’t forget that young man. I knew I’d be back at the labour office. I told myself I’d pay him properly for his work on my car. The following week I was back. I back paid him for the previous wash. He was eager to wash the car again — this time I’d come prepared to properly pay for his service …
That young man could easily stand on the side of the road and beg — but in the face of limited employment opportunities he has created work for himself. We might say, “Yeah, but not everyone’s like that!” I BET you that everyone WOULD BE if we didn’t feed them for FREE!
No tolerance for those who won’t work
Go to any other African country and it’s rare to find a beggar — because for the most part, people in those countries are struggling. They work insanely hard to put food on the table every day — they have no time or tolerance for someone who won’t do the same.
We’re told that beggars hire children, or sometimes even use their own, to sit in the scorching heat all day so you and I can feel sorry for them because of that child they’ve dragged out to use as a begging prop for our pity. We fund and reward that kind of behaviour! It’s criminal what we’re doing! What’s worse is that we’re helping these folks indoctrinate their children into thinking that begging is an acceptable way to live.
The other day I saw a woman, with her daughter of about 6 or 7 at a traffic light begging. This little girl was jumping up and down with her mom — trying to get people’s attention so they’d give them money. I blame every person who tossed coins their way for helping to ruin that young girl’s future. If her mom won’t teach her that money only comes through work then we as a nation should refuse to help her mom into turning that child into a beggar too. How could we ever expect that young girl to have any self-respect or sense of dignity when she lives her life in such a degrading manner?
The mom and little girl I just mentioned were white. I have to mention this because this is a crisis that has burrowed so deep into South Africa’s culture. It’s not a black or white or Indian or Coloured problem — the beggar mentality problem is a national disease that will cause irreparable damage if we allow it to continue.
Begging degrades and disempowers
Begging is a degrading way for any human to get money. It erodes self-worth and COMPLETELY disempowers people. Instead of these individuals seeing themselves as able, they see themselves us unable victims that everyone else needs to take care of. We support that self-degradation in people who beg by giving them free money which in turn gives them no desire or will to work.
My mom once offered domestic employment to a woman she often saw begging on the side of the road. The woman wasn’t even a tad keen to hear what my mom would pay her — she simply answered that she was getting more money begging.
I don’t, for one minute, believe that there are “no jobs” and that’s why people beg. That’s just not true! If a person can stand in the sun all day — running from one car to another to receive free money — they can work!
My first ever paying job was cleaning someone’s house. Later I waited tables, a job my brothers and I did for many years.
One of the things my parents DRILLED in us CONSTANTLY is we were NEVER EVER to ask ANYONE for money — EVER!
Beggars beg because they’d rather do that than work. It’s a choice they make. And one we support by giving them money!
We have young girls in our society, breeding when they have no way of supporting their children, because they receive a few free hundred rands in child grants. I say “breeding” because that’s what Governments degrade our young girls to when they fund them to have children they shouldn’t be having! But it’s “politically incorrect” to say these things!
I’ve had these conversations with people before. And I’ve been told that “it’s only a very privileged somebody, who’s never suffered, who would say such dreadful things!” Political correctness is killing our economy and stifling young people, and many others’ potential for greatness.
If my parents had taught my brothers and I that we could get through life getting free handouts instead of instilled an unshakable work ethic in us, my brothers and I would still be poor!
If young mothers had to do some kind of public service for the free money they receive through child grants it’s almost guaranteed they wouldn’t want to have children for the sake of getting those grants.
Service in return for grants
Our Public Hospitals for instance, desperately need extra hands — those young mothers use the public health care system, for virtually no pay, plus they receive grants — the least they can do is serve there for the money they receive. But no! We can’t do that!
I was surprised to hear that in the US there are young girls there who do the same: have children to receive free money. The UK is also notorious for giving people who refuse to work benefits that people who work pay for!
If we scrapped child grants in South Africa, children would not starve — their mothers would work! AND they would be very mindful of having more children they couldn’t support!
Instead of child grants, how about we provided free (or very affordable), proper child care so moms could work. These day care centres would provide great foundation phase education for children while also providing them with healthy meals throughout the day. Not a cent should go to the mom! If we really “cared for the children”, wouldn’t this be a better option than dishing out money to a person not mature enough to realise that you don’t bring a child into this world so that YOU can get a few bucks?! The only money she should ever get is money she earns.
Uneducated and poor easier to control
For the longest time I’ve believed that Governments that run countries with high levels of poverty WANT it this way. My mentor Sandi Krakowski, who lives in the States’, which is also notorious for keeping certain parts of the population poor, put it brilliantly by saying, “The Government wants to keep you uneducated and poor so you’re easier to control!” And that’s a fact!
Some may say, “Oh that Sandi is a privileged someone who doesn’t know what it’s like to be poor.” But, if anyone has a right to whine about the raw deal she got in life, it’s this incredible woman. She was molested as a child, gang raped in her early twenties, at one point was a single mom with a small child she had no idea how she’d feed. Yet she is the same person who says, “Your story doesn’t give you the right to whine!”
Sandi said she could’ve gotten on welfare to support her little boy — but she knew that once she got into that system, she might never have gotten out of it because she believed welfare was designed to keep people poor. Sandi is now a multi-millionaire business woman who has won various accolades for being one of the most influential people in Social Media.
You do have a choice
In my interview with extreme adventurer Riaan Manser he spoke with me about his work in underprivileged schools through his NO FOOD FOR LAZY MAN program. He told me how poor the areas he worked in were. Yet he would tell the kids there, “I know it feels you don’t have a choice, but you do. You can come to school on time. You can keep your uniform tidy — you can work hard…”
He went on to say that as he motivated these young men and women in some of the most impoverished parts of South Africa the changes they’d see in these schools was remarkable! Children who once felt they were victims at the mercy of poverty were unleashing their God-given greatness and changing their destinies!
This is the kind of help and empowerment that will change this nation — because it shows individuals their own power to not only survive but thrive! Giving free money to a person will keep them poor till the day they die. It’s almost guaranteed that this poverty will be passed onto their children and generations thereafter.
No person of integrity ever gets rich without hard work. If you want a nice a car, nice house, great education for your kids — it will never come from a handout. People who have these things work very hard for them.
There was time in my childhood when we were poor. My parents, two brothers and I lived in a one bed-roomed apartment. We all slept on one mattress. We would wash Styrofoam bases we’d bought food on and use them as dishes. I remember once being so hungry I couldn’t get up from bed. Eventually my mom started selling doilies which she would put out on the ground outside a mall. She started that business with R70 and built it to the point where she was able to help my dad give us a decent life. My brothers and I grew up helping out in that little business. I remember my little brothers doing work that was way beyond their years — but it prepared them for the incredible hard workers they are now.
I put myself through university. I went to college in the day and waited tables at night. I worked extremely hard in college because my parents didn’t have the money for me to be in school. I knew the only way I’d get to finish my degree was through scholarships and bursaries. My hard work paid off because I was awarded those.
After finishing high school my one brother left home when he was 16 in the hope of finding work in another province. My other brother followed him shortly after. They started slogging away at restaurants. It was hard going for them — but they never moved back home because they were determined to support themselves. My brothers didn’t have anyone pay for their education — they found work and through that work they’ve received all the training and qualifications they now have.
All have a story
Few have had it easy in this life. We all have stories.
Through my work at Dream BIG I’ve encountered people who had such raw deals from life that would make most of us crumble.
Among them my dear friend Sihle Magubane who lost his mom at 16. She was his only caregiver. At 16, young Sihle had to find a way to bury his mom, which meant him paying for her funeral himself. During that time, at 16, he worked three jobs — went to school and raised his two younger siblings.
Sihle has never, not once in his life, been given a handout. Today he owns South Africa’s very first individually black-owned Coffee Brand, Sihle’s Brew. He recently opened his Coffee Shop, ‘Coffee Time by Sihle’s Brew’, a dream he’d had for years …
He is not the only one. There are thousands of stories just like his.
Another woman I came across through Dream BIG came from one of the most impoverished rural areas of our country. She lived in a two bedroom house with seven family members. Her desire to build her parents a better home and improve the lives of her siblings led her to start a cleaning company in which she manufactures her own soap. She now has hundreds of people on her staff! No one “gave” that to her. She is a self-made entrepreneur! We are stifling this kind of potential by perpetuating a “get it for free” mentality.
NOTHING is for free. There’s always someone footing the bill. On one hand tax payers have to pay, on the other, the people receiving the free money stay poor because free money will never create wealth — it’s always temporary and never enough.
We might not be able to change the laws that are perpetuating poverty just yet but we can start the change by refusing to fund a beggar mentality in our country. Beggars won’t starve without our handouts. They’ll find work — and they’ll eat.