…what price a bottle of water when you have nothing else?

…over a chat about life in general, and about charity in particular, with a great pal of mine at Bahrain Islamic Bank, Mahmood Qannati, the superb Brand and Marketing guru, I recalled an incident that occurred in Manila in the Philippines around 20 years ago… at the time, I was the boss of a domestic shipping company, Negros Navigation Co Limited, whose fleet of vessels carried cargo and passengers up and down the length of the entire country…

…with my armed bodyguards (another story for another time!), I was out mingling with the queuing passengers before one of the sailings, and in the crowd a young woman, looking kinda battered by circumstance, was standing there silently, with a small girl about three years old by her side, a veritable angel with a dirty face… in one arm, the woman held a chubby wee Buddha of a baby boy, in the other, a bottle of water and an envelope enclosed in a clear plastic wrapper… my guards, thankfully, recognised the envelope to be one of the frequent requests the company received from the Department of Social Welfare, requesting a free ticket for some of our less fortunate wannabe passengers… the blistering heat was the typical dockside furnace, bashing up from the roadway tarmac… the family looked exhausted… I instructed the guards to accompany the woman and her children to my office and I summoned the lady who looked after our ticket sales and passengers… while we waited, I ordered some fast food and soft drinks for the three of them… they obviously had not eaten in a while… the woman wanted to travel down to the south of the country, an overnight journey, to try to get back to her original family, long since visited, and probably when the woman had known happier times… we arranged the complimentary tickets and a goodies bag of things for the children and the mother… meantime, the little girl, full of fun and mischief, had removed the rubber flip flops from her feet, and unexpectedly lobbed one of them at me, giggling… my guards were alarmed!… the boss was under attack from an infant assailant!… I could hardly contain my laughter and picked up the flip flop and threw it back at the child… there ensued ten minutes of flip flop warfare, with everybody in my office reduced to helplessness with the delight of this kid’s laughing shrieks… then I learned a bit more from my sales lady…

…this poor woman had been surviving, without a husband to support her, for goodness knows how long by purchasing one!, yes one!, bottle of water at a time with a cluster of coins, then reselling it for a few centavos profit, then buying another, and repeating the process as many times as she could manage in order to keep herself and her two offspring alive… that day, I learned much about the meaning of ‘living on the edge’, and what real charity means… it isn’t about money, although of course that always helps, but more to do with caring for our fellow human beings… about being responsible for putting a smile back on the face of somebody who has been suffering for far too long… it’s a lesson I have carried with me ever since… and one that I hope never, ever to forget … see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

23 responses to “…what price a bottle of water when you have nothing else?

  1. You couldn’t make it up. ๐Ÿ˜€ Fascinating story, Seumas; now and again it’s good to be able to put things into perspective. x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I posted this and the Hitler video, which was very funny, on FB. ย I hope you don’t mind. ย The Eva Braun jibe was hilarious!

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Seumas, such a wonderful story. No, you could not have made it up, not you. From what I know, just from you blog posts, you are an intuitive, giving man. ๐Ÿ“š Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Learn what ‘Living on the Edge’ REALLY means…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a heartwarming story and one we should all read from time to time. We do tend to take things for granted, don’t we? I love that the little girl, in spite of hardship, did not lose her sense of playfulness.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Powerful story, Seumas! I’m glad you were able to help the family, if only for the length of the journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well done, sir ๐Ÿ˜€ … I hope that was the turning point in her life and she, and her children, were able to live long and prosper. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What an uplifting story, Seumas – I hope the poor lady was able to be reunited with her family and they were able to assist her…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It must have given you a good feeling to be able to help like that, Seumas. What amazes me is the love the woman must have showered on her children to keep that little girl still playful and laughing in those circumstances. A wonderful story. —- Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This half breaks my heart, and half has me in awe of the courage and internal strength of that mother. People can be truly amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    Another goodun from Seumas

    Liked by 1 person

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