The Fear of Giving?


Last year, my good blogging friend, Dawnliz, posted some great insights on giving, or more importantly, the fact that we don’t give because of our fear of giving to “fake charities or cons.” This reminded me of an incident that happen on one of my adventures in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. I felt compelled to share this story during the holiday season.

Many years ago while motorcycling through Mexico toward the Guatemala border I came down with the famous intestinal malady know as Montezuma’s Revenge. I was incapacitated to say the least. I held up in a small pension slowly getting sicker. After several days the innkeeper, a kind lady, took pity on me and procured a doctor who sent me to a pharmacy just down the street.

I was weak, shivering from chills in spite of the tropical heat. I paid little attention to my surroundings as I fixated on my goal of reaching the pharmacist and the medicine that the doctor assured me would put me right. After a brief wait and a few pesos, I slowly made my way back towards the bed and toilet of my room. I really wasn’t sure I could negotiate the block or so on account of my light headiness and weakening body.

I had only made it a few steps when a campesino stopped me and asked for 38 pesos. My first reaction was to ignore him as I was in need a toilet and wasn’t sure I would make it back to my room. But there was something odd about him requesting an exact amount, 38 pesos. Further, there was an anxious strain in his voice that seemed urgent.

As I stopped to engaged the man, my mind ran the tape that he was coning me and that besides losing a few pesos I was going to lose something more embarrassing before I reached the toilet in my room. He told me he lived on a rancho near by and that his daughter had disenteria, dysentery. I decided that even if he was making this up, he had taken the time to put together a proper story that was filled wth emotion and even some technical words. In short, I decided he had earned the 38 pesos. I gave the man a 50 peso note. I was so intent on making it back to my room, I never noticed if he entered the pharmacy.

Over the next few days I was able to return to the world of solid foods and cold beer again. Finally, I felt ready to travel and gassed up my moto and began packing. I had all but forgotten the little Indian and his urgent request. Just as I was making ready to point my moto further south, the campesino came running down the narrow cobblestone street waving something in his hand. I immediately thought he was going to put the touch on me again and ready myself for a quick escape.

Something quit amazing happened instead. The little man handed me the change from the 50 pesos and insisted that I go with him to the Pharmacy. He almost dragged me there. It was there with has family waiting to greet me, I learned that his daughter was improving and that according to the Pharmacist the medicine had saved her life. I was stunned that the price of a lunch had saved a life.

I still have the picture of his family standing in front of tiny thatched house beside the river. I still carry the small medallion of Guadalupe his wife gave me in my tank bag. In this holiday season we can lose the spirit by worrying about who is deserving our kindness and who is not. In many villages down South, there is a belief that beggars provide us with the opportunity to follow Christ’s sentiment. That it is better to give than to receive, and that giving will bring us good fortune as we have done His work.

I know, in my travels throughout the world, it has for me.

Merry Christmas!

Author: Baja Moto Quest!

I am an educator who came out of retirement to consult with school districts, but I also live to ride my R1200GSA motorcycle as much as I can especially in Baja! In fact, without those adventures into the outback of Baja, I wouldn't be able to give my all at work or write. I've written a novel, Almost Human which was published recently and am working on the sequel, More Than Human.

43 thoughts on “The Fear of Giving?”

      1. Even those who don’t travel can have many encounters with the potential to change someone’s life – if only with a few moments of conversation.

        I wrote a brief post about such an encounter with homeless Staff Sargeant Brown, right here in Cincinnati, Ohio. Use the search box at the top of my site for “Rarely Proud to be an American Anymore” (It will come up first, click the title to go to the post to be able to read it all – it’s not very long).

        I’m going to edit it to back-link to this heartwarming post, by the way, so if you have pings enabled, you’ll be able to jump right over by clicking it.

        Merry Christmas to you and yours.
        (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
        – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
        “It takes a village to transform a world!”

  1. What an amazing story. I live in Africa and I see terrible poverty on a daily basis. I carry tins of food around in my car and give them out at traffic lights – my friends say it is toxic charity but I can’t bear to think of people going hungry.

  2. If an individual asks for a handout he or she will get get it everytime. Sometimes they don’t even have to ask. And most of the time I will jokingly say, “Now don’t waste this on food or some other silly thing. Get yourself a cold six-pack or whatever else floats your boat. The real cons are the organized “tax deductible” charities. Take the Red Cross for instance. When money flowed in for Katrina relief, they spent the the bulk of the money on upgrading their offices.
    Marsha J. Evans, President and CEO of the American Red Cross… for her salary for the year ending in 2009 was $651,957 plus expenses. Enjoys 6 weeks – fully paid holidays including all related expenses during the holiday trip for her and her husband and kids. including 100% fully paid health & dental plan for her and her family, for life. This means out of every dollar they bring in, about $0.39 goes to related charity causes. That is a true con.

    Anyway, your story was touching. Just what I needed this morning. Thanks.

  3. Your story is perfect for me today. You see I have a topic about Good Samaritans to present to Toastmasters group tonight. How opportune to have this example. I am so glad to meet you. Dawnliz is also my ideal! Thanks for leaving me a follow. I am doing the same with you. I’m predicting a happy journey together.

  4. I liked your story very much and I remember a similar situation many years ago with a little boy begging for money for food. I was very happy when I ignored the advice of locals not to give anything to beggars. I hope you still have motorcycle adventures. I love them.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I think all of us who have moto adventures have these encounters. I believe it’s what enriches our experience. Yes, I’m still riding and adventuring. I think when you reach my age, you can’t pass up an opportunity to ride down dusty trails to beaches and bays with no names. We might be one illness or accident from losing road forever! Ride safe my friend.

  5. I love finding Christmas stories “out of season.” As if Christmas should be “out of season.” I’m a slow reader, but good stories, like good food, must be digested slowly. Thanks for being in my reader’s digest collection.

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