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Man asks for help

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Man asks for help

Outstretched hand Cardboard sign that says "HELP." Every day we see them on the street, in the subway, at the store. How to respond to those who ask for help?

My history

At first, I gave everyone a little bit, guided by a simple Gospel commandment: give to someone who asks from you (Matt.5: 42). Of course, I heard about the “mafia of the beggars” and understood that, as a rule, this money is spent in bad faith, but the position of the “naive Christian” saved me: I give in the simplicity of my heart, I save my soul, and not my business, for what this money are coming.

Then I came to work in a foundation, and after about half a year there was a turning point. I suddenly realized that I was giving these 10 rubles “for an operation to a child” without any understanding of what was going on, while I’ve got a dozen letters in my mail from people who really need this 10 rubles.

It was a shock. I just could not give more incomprehensible what, because in front of my eyes dozens of sick children (and adults who donate much worse) really needed help. I could no longer feed this system. I could not “save my soul” at the expense of others.

At the same time, I came across a wonderful article about "chocolate anti-cartridges." I began to experiment, explore: I approached, talked, asked questions, bought tea and cakes, left contacts, brought people to the foundation, offered to help in a different way.

I saw how much deception: they distributed more than a hundred business cards, and not a single person came for help. I saw how often people need only one thing: so that I quickly get rid of it. I saw how sensitively they sometimes react to the slightest manifestation of human warmth: a chocolate bar, a kind word, a glass of tea. I realized that you can act differently.

Four principles

This is what I came up with as a result:

1. When I am on the run I put money in my outstretched hand, I can’t help solve the problem indicated on the card in the hands of the suffering person. My money will not help him go home, will not cure his child, will not allow him to buy a prosthesis or return to normal life. When I give money, I give only for the fact that tomorrow he was standing in the same place with the same sign. My money, at best, will go only to maintain his life in the current state.

2. If I don’t have time, I can usually give something even on the run. It can be a chocolate, a pie, a glass of tea from a nearby tent. This may be a business card with contacts of the fund and advice to contact those who may be able to help.

I am sure: any of these things are much more useful than money. Each ruble nails the applicant to this shop in this transition, “helps” him to ask further, again and again, every day. Distributing money to the subway – how to treat teeth with painkillers: the pain subsides, the problem does not seem so acute, but in reality, every day things only get worse.

The business card of the fund gives a chance to change something. Pie allows you to get enough and expresses your participation. Tea bought by a stranger warms – both physically and mentally. It is much more than 100 rubles.

Also, I can somehow contribute to the fact that the rest of the people did not give money for what was not clear (here I wrote about a successful, in my opinion, experience).

3. If I want to change something in the life of this person, I have to spend time. We must come up, ask, understand, think about how I can help. Do not pay off from him on the run, but to show participation – if not emotionally, then at least just with your time, which, of course, is more valuable than money.

4. If I try to help solve a problem, then the main rule is not to give money. Need a ticket – bring the handle to the ticket office, buy a ticket, put on a train, stand on the platform before departure. You need medicine – go to the pharmacy, buy, bring (after trying to understand whether it is really necessary). Need food – walk to the store and buy food. We need clothes — collect things from friends and bring them to the same temple next Sunday. If you need a lot of money for treatment, take it by the hand, bring it to the foundation or the parish. Or collect money from friends and transfer them directly to the hospital.

And then what?

Money works as a painkiller not only for those who ask, but also for those who give. We put fifty dollars on the move, we say to ourselves “I did what I could” and we forget about the person, without actually doing anything. Abandoning this scenario is not easy.

As a believer, I find it hard to admit that I will not help many of those who ask for help. But then, firstly, in this way I will not harm my “help”, and secondly, “I will save” the strength, time and money to provide real help to someone else.

I remember the parable of the good Samaritan (Luk.10: 25-37): only “an integrated approach”, when we try to help a person from different sides (like a Samaritan – with clothes, transport, treatment, food, shelter), can be considered a real charity.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan Engraving. Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld


A man asks for help, you go by. If you are in a hurry, tell yourself “I'm in a hurry”, put a chocolate bar or a foundation business card on the run, and go about your business – they are really important. If you have time, come and talk. Find out if a person wants to change something. Think together how you can help him. If nothing comes up – write to us, try to tell something.

The last and most important thing I want to say: all those who ask for help in the subway, on the streets, at the temples, in the squares – these are people. No need to pay them off. Get involved, talk to them and help for real.

Matvey Berhin
Fund usa-health-online.com
Write: [email protected]

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