By Jane Henderson
Last January, George put a letter in my post box asking for help in funding his school uniforms and stationery. I appreciated his pro-active attitude and asked for a list of the items he required and their prices. I was most impressed that he did the foot work and came back with a comprehensive list, so I gave him money for uniforms and books.
Numerous requests followed for money, and lots of stories about a sick mother and an out-of-work father with six children to feed. He also needed money for a computer to do school work. I was worried that he would be disadvantaged by not having access to a computer, so funded that once. I also gave him some money for food.
I decided to check up with the school whether he actually attended regularly. He saw me there and then came to apologize to me that he hadn’t been exactly truthful in what he had told me.
Instead of giving him more money, I began buying him some spinach seedlings and then, in order to encourage him to earn some money, ingredients for vetkoek, which he was going to sell. The requests for money continued but instead, I provided toiletries and clothing. I also gave him jumble to sell.
We had one occasion when he phoned me asking for food, as the family was starving. Blair and I were out, so on our way home, we delivered a giant pizza to Yeoville. I had to smile at this rather superior Mr and Mrs delivery service. We completed the year with two Christmas hampers from Pick n Pay. George replied saying that he was off to the Eastern Cape for the holidays!
George was plausible. But was he a needy young person or an accomplished con-artist?
I have come to feel that I was too gullible and have decided (and told him) that this year I would sponsor Boniswa for grade 9 at Athlone Girls. A much simpler exercise, I hope!