The Old Saying “If You Give A Man A Fish And You Feed Him For A Day But If You Teach Him To Fish You Feed Him For A Lifetime” Is Very True But Sometimes Hard to Implement

The Old Saying “If You Give A Man A Fish And You Feed Him For A Day But If You Teach Him To Fish You Feed Him For A Lifetime” Is Very True But Sometimes Hard to Implement

When I was teaching English in Hanoi Vietnam I tried to help a homeless man better himself. He got fired from his job of parking motorcycles, mainly because he was useless and I was very soon going to find out how useless he really was. I met him across the street from where I lived. I used to walk past him on the way to the bus stop and as he spoke English he started talking. I mean he spoke English but he didn’t understand anything I said. A sort of a one sided conversation. As I was his only friend and he was probably my only friend I used to take him to lunch in the cheapest place I could find. He had a few psychological problems, mainly to do with self esteem, as he would bore the pants of anyone who tried to talk to him by reviewing his life history. So he had very few friends.

I used to run around this little garden and do exercises in the morning and he ended up living on a park bench in this garden, so I saw a lot of him. He left his boarding house as he couldn’t pay the rent and in the summer this garden was a good place to live. Anyway I saw a lot of him, he had no money and he was too proud to ask for any so I took him to lunch. He couldn’t get a job as he was pretty useless so I tried to work out what he could do. He wouldn’t become a beggar, he was too proud for that or not hungry enough. He would rather starve than become a thief as he was pretty honest. So what could we do. In the end we settled on polishing shoes. Now that was something he could do, I hoped. Anyway I set him up with the polish and the brushes and off he went.

Now I was very worried as my visa was running out and I would have to leave, so I had to get him up to speed pretty quick. Not an easy task. He had no motivation and for him to live he needed to polish five shoes a day, but that was nearly an impossibility. I told him what to say to the foreigner and he still couldn’t get it right. I took him round the streets and showed him shoes that needed polishing and nothing happened. Another saying crossed my mind, “You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”

A Call To Anybody Living In Hanoi Near Hoan Kiem Lake Can You Go To The Hoan Kiem Library In Hanoi Just See If My Homeless Friend Is Still Alive, His Name Is Van. Thank you.

To find out more about homeless in Hanoi go here

And for more about living and teaching in Hanoi Vietnam click here

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