Thursday, March 26, 2009

Petty Theft and Sniffing Glue

So the side mirror was stolen off the car today.

I can't say for sure exactly when it happened. I was in and out of a couple of shops and back to the Land Cruiser in between. I even moved it up 50 meters when I saw a different parking spot open so that I'd be closer to the butchery and the car would be safer.

Here's the thing...

There are hundreds of street kids in Arusha. It's a very sad thing. And usually, one or two of them make a big show of helping you find a parking spot and then promising to guard you car. I don't really feel good about giving to them but I usually do. I do because I would like my car to be safe from little things like having the side mirror taken off. I don't give much. What I give would be about what you'd pay for a chapati. Or a bus fare. Some times I'm organized enough to give them a bunch of bananas instead.

But last week I was in the waiting room at Byron's physical therapy session and I saw a big poster discouraging the giving of money to street kids. Why? Because they spend the money to sniff glue. I know this. But I give to them anyway because I fear for the car if I don't. And I feel for them, too. I don't even want to think about how hard their lives are.

When the boys crowded around me, looking for a little hand-out, I thought about that poster and how I really shouldn't be giving them money. I was conflicted and I decided not to give them any coins.

When I told Byron about the missing mirror, he wasn't too amused. He considers the coins a worthwhile insurance plan. As he pointed out, if I had given 50 cents, we wouldn't now be spending $50 for a replacement mirror.

Point taken.

But I don't want to give money for glue any more. I'm going to have to start thinking a little more creatively on this one...

1 comment:

Sarah said...

We had the same conflict while living in Brazil. Dave would usually get a big bag of bread and some fruit and we'd pass that out in lieu of money. The saddest day we had was when of the "street"boys was a run-away from our church run children's home. He was so high it broke our hearts and he ran again before we could convince him to come back with us. I'll pray for you as you decide how to handle this part of misery in your area of the world.