Calculating Kindness

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In my home town of Harare, Zimbabwe, there is quite a large divide between the rich and poor. While in one area you see the wealthy splurging on expensive cars and homes, in another you bear witness to many impoverished people struggling to feed their family and pay fees to send their children to school.

A few days ago I was at the store with my mother and, as we were walking down an aisle, a man with a perplexed look on his face was eyeing a section of calculators. He turned to us and said, "Which one is the best scientific calculator?" I pointed out the one I thought was best and he thanked me. I looked at the price tag and said, "It's only $11. That's a fair price, because it's really good!" He responded, "Oh, is that a fair price? Okay. Thank you." After a bit of conversation, we learned that he was buying it for his son who had important examinations coming up later in the year. His son had been a straight A student but was struggling in mathematics because he didn't have this one essential tool. Thinking we had assisted, my mother and I moved on.

We were still in the aisle, but had moved further away. I glanced back and noticed that, as soon as we had left, the man turned and was now walking towards the exit. It was obvious that he could not afford the $11 calculator his son so desperately needed. We were on a budget with our shopping but I asked my mother, "Quick! Please, may I have $11? I'll pay you back at home!" Without hesitation, she gave me the money. I ran full speed to catch the man before he disappeared, off on his journey which would likely end in him arriving home to his eager son only to crush his excitement because he couldn't purchase the item which was so greatly needed. I caught up and said "Hey, I'll pay for you."

Financial kindness in Zimbabwe is rare because frankly, money is hard to come by and hard to maintain, as the economy is not very strong. He was in complete and utter disbelief. He asked me four times, "Are you serious?! Are you sure?!" I assured him quickly, "Yes, let's go to the till." When we got there, I looked into the man's eyes; they were slightly watery and he couldn't stop smiling and fidgeting. I paid and he was so grateful. He asked me for my number so he can message me one day to tell me how the exam goes. I gave him my name and number, we hugged, and he was on his way.

This story is about small scale influence. This act of kindness hasn't changed the world, however it may have altered the entire trajectory of that young boy's life. Without that calculator, there's no way he would have passed a high-level mathematics examination. Now that he has it, even though he may still fail, it's wonderful to know that he has been given the opportunity at least. He has been given the opportunity to achieve, to excel, and truly reach his full potential as a student. Who knows where he may end up one day all because a stranger bumped into his father and purchased a calculator for him.

Thank you for reading. Have a happy and compassion filled day!


Andile :)

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