Friday, 10 February 2012

The Gardener

 7 Feb 2012.... Rose writing...

Today I began to see how difficult it is to try to help someone out of poverty.
A friend who lives here recently had a brief conversation with a car park attendant. It is customary here to pay the car park attendant a small amount of money to keep an eye on your car while you are away. He asked her if she had any work for him in her garden. He told her that he was not able to earn enough to feed his wife and two children and needed work. She felt she needed to seriously consider employing him. In deciding to do this she was taking a risk. He was a complete stranger and his story might be false. She risked giving him the opportunity to steal from her home.
She had a number of telephone calls with him and then today she met him at a nearby traffic junction and brought him home to see the garden. She had agreed to take him on for a trial period for one day a week.
I saw him arrive and felt for him so much. He had dressed smartly and carried a small bag containing work clothes and a phone.
He was extremely polite and listened carefully to the instructions. He changed into his work clothes and then worked hard all day pruning and weeding.
He told us that his wife had gone back to her family in Bushbuck Ridge with their two children because he was no longer able to feed them in their family home in Masoyi. He returned to Bush Buck Ridge (about 2 hours drive) each weekend with any money he had earned to feed his family.

At one point he seemed to feel unwell and my friend soon realised he had shingles. She encouraged him to go to the clinic later this week to get help.

This situation made me realise that my friend’s responsibility did not end once she had paid him for the day’s work, she also needed to help him with his medical needs and he was happy to accept this help.
She had taken a risk but he seemed trustworthy. He is desperate to do a good job and put her in touch with someone who would give a good reference and showed her his ID.
My friend has shown compassion and has made herself vulnerable. She has reached out to a stranger and has decided to trust him. She will need to continue to be wise as she gets to know him. He too has taken his responsibility as a father seriously. He could so easily have cut off all contact with his family and turned to stealing to feed himself. I hope this agreement works out for them both and that he can begin to rebuild his family life.
Rose 7.2.12