Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s Shop

Smith and empty bags of rice and oil his wife soldA while ago I wrote about Mr. Smith. He’s a blind double amputee that I’ve befriended while being here. He’s been my favorite amputee because of his cheerfulness and gratitude. In July he asked me to give him some money so his wife, Ruth, could sell dried goods. I asked him to submit a list of items and prices. The next week he had a shopping list ready for me. So I took his wife and his friend, Moses, to Red Light market where we bought around $100USD worth of goods. They were all excited to have their store fully stocked, and it was kinda exciting for me as well.

So this past week I stopped by to check on the store. Mr. Smith happily told me he had sold 6 bags of rice since I had last seen him. At first I thought, “Hmmm six bags, I was hoping for more like 60, but it’s a start.” But then I saw the empty rice bags on the floor. I realized that in less than a month he had sold 6 50kg bags of rice!!! That’s about 660lbs for you Americans. Not to mention 12 gallons of cooking oil. The picture at the top left is Mr. Smith with his kids and Ruth standing in front of the empty rice bags and oil jugs.

Smith and his money

After seeing the empty bags Mr. Smith showed me the tin can he had his savings in. He said every day he puts 50LD in it. I looked at the tin and asked how to open it. Everyone laughed, and said you don’t. You put money in it till it won’t fit anymore and then break it open. He told me he only puts 50LD bills in the can and not 10 x 5LD bills. He also showed me his current cash surplus. It totaled around $30USD. In a country where most people make less than a dollar a day, having $30USD lying around plus a savings tin full of money means you’re doing pretty well. To the right is Mr. Smith with his two children and the business’s money.

So far this seems to have been my first sustainable development success. The phone charging business I helped start when I was here last year is non-existent and the guy never paid me back, though his cell phone scratch card business is doing well. I’ve been told by some amputees at the super market that Ruben, the man I bought the tarp for to cover his house, has sold the tarp. Though when I talk to Ruben he tells me he’s just waiting to save up enough money to buy some woven mats for the walls.

At any rate, I haven’t lessened anyone’s situation and it feels great to see Mr. Smith succeeding. He told me he wants $50USD to buy a tarp and some building materials to construct a small shop on the side of his house. I think Mr. Smith has graduated from charitable donations to loans with interest.



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