Bean Happy

l Ieft them with a bag of beans and told them that this was their chance to change everything.

I was not sure how Lourdes would cope – it being the second time ever venturing into a major city, on her own. Would she remember where to go, would she remember how to get back home? Would she remember to look left and right before crossing a road? Would she have saved up enough money to buy another bag of beans? Would she get this business going?

I went away for 2 weeks and hoped they would manage to kick start this small business without depending on me to make it work. I hoped they would take this opportunity to uplift their family, to escape their tragic circumstances and importantly to restore their dignity.

I visited them today. And I don’t know who was more happy – them or me!

(If you do not know the story of Rudi, an amazing woman who has lost most of her children and grandchildren to Aids and has brushed shoulders with death a number of times herself- please take the time to read my previous post – A token plastic elephant, my silent promise.)

Lourdes (Rudi’s grand daughter) had made the journey into Beira on her own and bought a second bag of beans from the money she had made from the bag I had bought her.

This may seem trivial to you. I mean for goodness sake, we’re talking about a bag of beans! How can a bag of beans change lives?

And that’s just it, it can and is changing their lives. They are generating enough money to buy food and medicine AND to buy more beans! Rudi and her family are back in business!

My point is this, don’t turn your back. Don’t assume that you need to move mountains to help someone.

Because, sometimes it just takes a bag of beans.

26 replies »

  1. Ahh, that just warmed my heart. Thank you for not giving up on Rudi and sharing how you had to adapt to be more effective for her. Seeing so many struggle here on a daily basis can be overwhelming but knowing you were able to help just one person gives me hope. I hope you are enjoying Malawi! xx

  2. Your words and images are truely touching. And inspiring! Thank you for sharing these experiences.. I’ve just stumbled on your site and have only read a handful of posts so far, but I must ask.. do you have any more updates on Rudi’s story? I’ve just moved to Beira one week ago myself and am looking forward to the adventures of living in Africa, though I know it won’t be easy and as I try to find my place here I am very glad to have found your blog. Thank you 🙂

  3. Your blog is so profound, I felt I had to share the link on FB with my friends and readers. One day, I want to buy your book when it gets into print from your Mozambique sojourn and experiences. It will be something to truly treasure.

    • Wow!!! You had me speechless! Thank-you Bart, especially coming from you. I always look forward to your poetry. You manage to hit the nail on the head every time, saying what many of us feel but just don’t have the words!

      Thank-you for your comments, they are most appreciated…and for sharing my blog on face book 🙂

  4. I think you have taught all expats a lesson…so important to teach self help rather than ” dishing out help”. So often after giving aid we leave the country and we have done them no favours at all, as they have come to rely on our aid, and sink back into despair when we leave!

  5. Congratulations to you all, such a small gesture, with such a huge result. I hope everyone keeps going from strength to strength. You must feel so proud.

  6. This is WONDERFUL!!! You are so right. The smallest kindest gesture can go a LONG way and make a big difference. Thank goodness for beans! (The smiles in those pictures make ME smile!)

    • Thanks Jessica! It was wonderful to come back from holiday and to see that their looks of ‘despair’ had been transformed into ‘hope.’ I will continue to check on them every couple of weeks. If the business goes well, I hope to expand it by offering them a loan to buy dried fish as well. One step at a time. Nevertheless, it was so encouraging to see that they had taken the initiative and used the opportunity to lift themselves out of their awful situation. Thanks for reading, your comments are always appreciated 🙂

    • Absolutely. Small can be HUGE in the life of others. I was really lucky to witness what it can do and it touched me deeply to see them happy.

    • Thank-you 🙂 It was such a special moment. They were initially so deflated. To see them smile like that….well it’s just priceless!