by Bryan Bennett
Bremerton, Washington, USA

Most people, I think especially Americans, never fully realize just how poor some people are in the world. We see the advertisements on TV for organizations asking for our help in feeding children less fortunate than ourselves in poor countries. This has nowhere near the same effect as going to one of those countries and seeing the poor for ourselves.

I had the opportunity to witness firsthand how some people live when my work sent me to Thailand. Thailand has technology and some people have considerable amounts of money, but many are very poor, or disabled, and forced to beg for money on the street. Businesses there have no inclination to give jobs to sick or disabled people. They fire those that can’t do the work because they can always replace them with someone who can.

I didn’t have time to get to know Nok very well, but what I do know will stay with me for the rest of my life. She is twenty-something, with two young kids and an extended family that she helps support. She makes just enough money to pay for child care, a place to live, put food on the table, and possibly an occasional splurge for a nice piece of clothing or toy for the kids. She is certainly in the above average income level for Thailand, but by no means rich.

Nok It was a huge surprise to me when I met this exceptional woman who made an effort to do her part to help those in need. We were walking down a fairly busy street when we came upon a beggar. Nok stopped, got some money from her purse and put it in the beggar’s cup. Fifty feet or so down there was another beggar, and she stopped and gave money to him, too. Literally, every single beggar we passed, she stopped to give money.

Suddenly I began to realize that even though I give money to people on the street once in a while, it’s nothing compared to what Nok gives. A woman who has very little, gave what she had for every person less fortunate than herself. I felt bad because I had not been the first to stop and help these people. I’ll never forget that day. Now, when I pass someone on the street asking for money, I no longer try to look the other way. Instead, I try to remember that I have many blessings in life, and a little spare change here and there can make a world of difference.

Originally published as HeroicStories #164 on Aug 1, 2000
Available in The Best of HeroicStories, Volume 2.

2 thoughts on “Nok”

  1. I agree many are in a difficult position but: I find it hard to justify giving to a person in a full length leather coat. I also have to wonder about the person that got out of a recent model car parked on a side street and then went to the median of a busy road and held up a sign for help. How do I tell the real needy from the fakes? It has turned me against most all of them.

  2. It is much easier to give to “beggars” in other countries than it is here in the US when we don’t know their stories. Here we become jaded from all the television stories of con artists and those who are addicted and our contribution to those addictions. In the end, it depends on our compassion and willingness to help – whether it is through donating to food banks and homeless shelters, or giving change to someone who asks. And to help me with this decision, I always ask “If this were me or one of my children, how would I want other’s to respond?” A good reminder is always appreciated. Thank you for this story.


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