Indonesia never ceases to move me.
I was watching the telly one of the rare free afternoon I had and saw a segment called Minta Tolong! In this program, a decoy girl (it was a set up) was telling a sob story to the public to get their sympathy. She needed to buy a new school bag for RM9 (Rp25,000), but did not have the money and hence she tried to sell a basket of (withered) onions.
To my mind, she was convincing.
Of course many turned her away. You don't spend RM9 on onion, especially if it had withered. One lady did question her about her being on the street selling onions and even asked her to be her adopted daughter. But none beat this Ibu Yanti, who is a sole breadwinner selling some cookies by the street. She was moved by her stories, give her the Rp25,000 that she needed, and bought her onions; justifying it to the undercover reporter (she didn't know she was being interviewed and recorded by a candid camera) later that she could use that onions for her cooking. Apparently Ibu Yanti thought the girl needed the money more than her.
Despite having a husband with all kind of health problems and can't fend for himself.
The undercover reporter then rewarded her with a stash of money - I could not figure out how much, but I saw stacks of Rp50,000 notes, so I guess it would be much more than what she could make in a month.
Life is difficult in Indonesia. Having traveled the length and breadth of Indonesia the past 15 years, I think I have seen the most squalid of houses - if I may call them houses. In fact I have talked to many living on the streets - many with small kids or even babies, some may even be the poorest of the poor, beyond our comprehensions. This was long before I became a blogger, so I did not record them, but many are vivid in my mind.
She was stunned with the reward, so much so that she just slumped there and then cried at her good fortune. She would have never thought that her good deed would be repaid so instantly, and reasonably handsomely. It was touching; in fact too touching for me to take it on my own.
Caption: Ibu Yanti and her husband during a poignant moment after she went back to her house to inform her husband of her good fortune with TV camera in tow.
That afternoon I could not help it but shed a tears or two myself.
Here is a segment showing a kid trying to sell eggs and this guy with only Rp13,000 on him decided to help.
Ibu Wisni has no money to buy milk for her baby and had to resort to selling used bottle to buy the milk. She wanted Rp25,000 for it. Would you part RM9 for 3 used bottle?
I think I know the answer to what I would do and I am ashamed!
Funnily the old man was willing to help, but was prevented from doing so by his wife. I think the wife was simply jealous! ;-)
In some of these scenario: 97 people in 3 hours would not help the girl by buying her coal for the money to buy her mum some medicine. In another, some 174 people in 8 hours would not want the old man to shine their shoes in order to buy medicine for his grandson. With due respect, at least two did offer some cash as alms, but were refused by him.
With due respect too, some were simply too poor perhaps to even help themselves.
But again, the lady smalltime seller of cookies did help and without string attached. May be her daily profit went into paying for the coal to help the child.
In this instance, she would kneel in gratitude to God for the reward given and cried.
We can take heart from Ibu Nasti, a small time kue seller. She cycled everyday to sell, while we are not sure of her daily profit, we are sure it would not be much, but she would still help people in need.