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- No, it’s evil.
Few traffic lights in South Africa are void of beggars. They’re multiplying every day because people think it’s kind to give them money-
I’d gone to the labour office the other day- when I got 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 didn’t forget that young man. I knew I’d be back at the labour office and I’d pay him properly for washing 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!” But I bet you that everyone would be if
we didn’t feed them for FREE!
I know a lot of people dislike car guards. But from my experience, I think it’s honourable that those men and women choose to work for money rather than beg- or steal.
Not all of them are great- but many of the car guards I’ve experienced are fantastic! They provide a service which essentially is work.
It might be work some don’t appreciate, but it’s work nevertheless.
It beats standing on the side of the road and having other people give you money for nothing!
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 and 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. And we fund and reward that kind of behaviour! It’s criminal what we’re doing!
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.
If a person can beg, they can get themselves to a mall and find a job in a store or they can wait tables- a job my brothers and I did for many years-
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!
And 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’s potential for greatness.
If young mothers had to do some kind of public service for the money they receive it’s almost guaranteed they wouldn’t want to have children for the sake of getting those grants.
Our Public Hospitals for instance, desperately needs 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!
The social grants increase every year, and as they rise so do poverty levels.
I was surprised to hear that in the US there are young girls there who do the same- because the State will give them a few dollars for their children.
The UK is also notorious for giving people who refuse to work benefits that people who work pay for!
If we scrapped child grants, children wouldn’t starve- their mothers would work! AND they would be very mindful of having more children they can’t support!
Instead of child grants, how about we provide free (or very affordable), proper, child care so moms can work, and healthy meals are provided for those children at the day care centres?
Not a cent should go to the mom!
Instead, child grants would all go to kids receiving great foundational education at those child care centres I mentioned, where they’d be safe and well fed.
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.
For the longest time I have 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 stupid 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.
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 mommy 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 whose won various accolades for being one of the most influential people in Social Media.
I remember interviewing extreme adventurer Riaan Manser and him sharing about his work in underprivileged schools.
He told me how poor the areas he worked in were. And yet he said he would tell the kids, “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 the changes they see in these schools are remarkable, as he motivates these young men and women in some of the most impoverished parts of South Africa.
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 school.
I went to college in the day and waited tables at night.
I worked my butt off in college so I could get scholarships and bursaries, which I did.
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.
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.
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…
Sihle 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 to her starting 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.
Beggars won’t starve. They’ll find work- and they’ll eat.