‘I Don’t Want Money’

In my limited experience as a 20-year-old, I have encountered many homeless people on the streets of Philadelphia and New York. They usually asked me for money as I walked by. Most of the time, they also were sitting on the ground while doing so. So far in South Africa, people have come right up to me and asked not for money, but for food. In Cape Town this weekend, we went to a market, where four of us were individually approached by different people, all asking for food. “I don’t want money,” each of them said. “Can you buy me food?” One woman said to me that she hadn’t eaten all day and asked me to buy food for her and her children. Back at home, I’m so used to ignoring requests for money. But it’s a lot harder to say no when people come right up to you and ask point blank to help them get food. We walked into a nearby Burger King, where I bought three cheeseburgers for her and her kids. I would do again.
–Rachel Stone