15. Important Lesson About Sharing

Important Lesson About Sharing

This is a letter written by Leila Zelnick to her father John. Leila is a Peace Corps volunteer residing in Bolivia. It's a story about a young boy who teaches an important lesson about sharing. Here is Leila's letter:

About a month ago, when we were stuck in the Hotel Regina, some other trainees and I sort of befriended this young shoeshine boy who works on a street near the hotel. You can tell he's had a rough life, but he's the sweetest, happiest kid that you will ever meet. I would always say "Hi" and talk to him (his name is Moises) whenever I pass by.

Then earlier this week, my friend Barry ended up talking to him late at night (around ten) and he got the whole Moises story. It turns out he's never known his mother, and his father's a drunk who lives up in the mountains, so Moises just ran away. He shines shoes, earning about 20-30 bolivianos a day, and he's been sleeping on the street for the last three weeks. He started crying and Barry came back to the hotel really depressed. (Moises is eleven.)

On Tuesday, I was supposed to meet my friend Josh for lunch, and when I got to the restaurant, I saw Moises. Remembering what Barry had told me, I asked Moises if he had eaten and if he wanted to eat lunch with us. He said he hadn't eaten, so he sat down with us.

We ordered lunch (it's just soup and a segundo plato, but it's cheap and good), and I ordered some Coke for Moises. Then the waiter came back and told us that Moises couldn't be there. But we told him that we were buying him lunch.The waiter left and then three guys from the restaurant came back and started to shoo him away, saying, "Fuera, fuera!" I stopped them and explained again that we were buying him lunch, but the manager told me that he couldn't eat there. When I asked him why, he said that if other people saw him eating, they wouldn't want to eat there.

I couldn't believe it. Moises was sitting right there. It was like he was not even human. Anyway, Josh and I told the manager that if Moises couldn't eat there, then neither could we. So we left and went to another (sadly inferior) restaurant across the street.

But here's the best part. After we had eaten our soup, Moises asked me if I minded if he took his segundo (plate of food) in a bag, because he had to leave.

Then, we watched as he left and went across the street and shared the segundo with other shoeshine boys. Since he had already eaten the soup, he wanted to give the other away. As Josh said, we probably fed eight kids that day."

Leila's father John adds this: "So Do you know what Christmas means to me, now Quite simply, it means that we should give. Give 'til it hurts. I mean, if Moises, a Bolivian shoeshine boy who has nothing, can give all that he has so that others might eat, how can we, who have a surplus, say no to those in need

"See the man ringing the Salvation Army bell Give. Or how about the Angel Tree at the mall Give, again. Or the Christmas letter from the mission (You know, the one we so casually pitch in the trash as just so much junk mail.) Give to them, too. Give, and your life will be richer for it."

Thanks to Leila and John for a beautiful reminder.