|Front entrance of the grocery store.|
By the time we got back to the grocery store, our parking space was long gone. As we waited at the parking entrance for another spot to open up, the truck was swarmed by fruit and vegetable vendors, teenage boys selling phone cards, and beggars.
It's easy to get rid of the veggie and phone card peddlers, but the beggars are hard. Especially those with deformities and kids . . . it's heartbreaking!
|A wheelchair bound woman with her three kids on their way to the market.|
This style of chair is pretty common in Niger.
The problem with giving to beggars in a situation like this is that once you've given to one your car is surrounded and there's just no way to fill all the needy hands. Eventually, most give up and move on. But today, there was a little boy of about 10 who just wouldn't take no for an answer.
He stood and tapped at my window until we pulled into the lot. When we got to our spot and I opened the door, there he was, waiting and asking for money or food. We walked across the street to the open air market to buy our fruit and veg and whole wheat, and he continued to follow me. I told him to leave, but he wouldn't. 'Attends-moi, mon amour!' ('Wait for me, my love!') he cried out as I tried to lose him in the crowd.
When we made our first stop and I bought some fresh green beans, he grabbed the bag from the vendor and told him he would carry it for me. At that point I realized there was no losing this kid and if he helped me, I could pay him for his 'work'. Upon seeing this, another boy ran up and tried to take his job. 'Hey, he's with me.' I told the newbie, so he decided he'd port for L.
As we wove through the market stalls looking for wheat, I felt a little hand grip the ring and pinky fingers of my right hand. I asked L. if this was culturally appropriate. She turned and saw that he was holding my hand as we walked and she started to laugh. Apparently since he's a kid it's no big deal . . . but I'm pretty sure we got some funny looks from all those we passed by.
I bought him an orange, paid him 100cfa and thanked him for his hard work.