Recently I had a conversation with a local woman about a young lady who needs help. The 17 years old young lady has 3 children ages 4, 3, and 1. She was orphaned as a child and became pregnant at 13.
With only a second grade education she can’t get a job and has been living off of grant money from the South African government. (This is a common occurrence for orphans or those caring for orphans in South Africa.) Because she failed to renew her grant this year, she won’t be receiving any grant money for the next 3 months while her application is processed.
In the meantime she needs food to feed her young children. The problem is that she has a history of squandering the help that has been given to her in the past. I’m told that if she is given a month's worth of food then it will be gone within the first week because her neighbors will take advantage of her. I’m also told that the police helped this young lady plant a garden and put her through a course to teach her the basics of gardening. But the garden withered because she was too busy hanging out with friends and playing cards to care for the garden.
So the dilemma we face is how to help three hurting, hungry children and their mother, without continuing to foster this dependency that she has learned.
Sitting in our comfortable living rooms, it’s easy to see hurting, needy people and think that we can solve their problems with money. We want to make a donation and feel good knowing that we’ve helped. Unfortunately, true help is much more complicated and messy.
There are not always easy answers to helping the hurting.