By Fredrica Syren:
Here in Sweden we have lots of Romans, also known as gypsies, begging for money on the street. It seems that on every corner and outside every store a man or woman sits on the ground with pictures of his or her kids and a cup for money. I have been suspicious, as I have heard many stories about how they are not honest, etc. I would sometimes give them little money, but most of the time I would look away when passing one. Why, I don’t know; what I was a afraid of, I have no idea.
Then I read a story about a fellow environmentally conscious blogger who, every morning when going to work, would pass the same Roman man begging for money. One day, he stopped and used Google translator to ask the man if he wanted a job helping him build something in his garden. The man eagerly accepted and turned out to be a very hard working man. The blogger learned so much about this man during the time they worked together. Most he learned what a wonderful man he was.
When I read this story, I felt ashamed for the way I had acted. I decided that, from then on, I would face them and smile at them when passing.
Today, I passed a Roman man outside my grocery store and I gave him some money. I noticed he was shaking from the cold. (No wonder, since it’s the dead of winter here.) I walked across to a bakery a bought a cup of coffee for him. I told the owner I was buying it for the man begging on the street. She went silent for a moment and then said,” You are a lovely woman and I will not accept your money.” I was so surprised. Then she put two warm buns from the oven and a sandwich into a paper bag, and asked me to give it to him.
When I gave it to him, he thanked me over and over again. Hungry, he immediately started eating. As I walked away, I turned and saw him eating all the food so fast, and smiling and waving at me at the same time. No doubt this man was in much need of food and was really grateful for what I brought him.
I realized just then that I want to be a person who has faith that people are good and are not trying to scam me. I will believe they are honest and, if not, well I guess it really won’t hurt me in the long run. This is how I want to raise my kids to view the world — to always acknowledge and face people with less luck than they have.