Two years ago, I was passing through a city slum when I saw a 7-year-old boy nicking some fruit from the wet-market stand. He was a skinny, pale boy, with big grey eyes and shaggy black hair that looked like it hadn't been cut in months. His clothes were strangely clean and he wore a backpack on one shoulder.
"Don't steal the food," I told him, pulling him aside. "Earn it instead."
"Can't," he told me sullenly. "None of the people want to hire me."
"Well then, set up your own business. What are you good at?"
"Crafts and music, mostly."
"What kind of crafts?" He shrugged and said, "Whittling, carving, painting, a little clay modeling. Not really much."
"Here." I gave him a twenty-dollar bill. "Buy what you need, and sell what you make. You can probably get your supplies from a dollar store I know just a few blocks from here." I pointed it out to him and he went it.
Yesterday I went again through that slum, visiting a friend who lived on the other side of it. Near the same spot I found him, I saw a charming 9-year-old playing 'Fur Elise' on a worn-out keyboard with a stand behind him, filled with beautiful carvings, wood models, and clay knickknacks. He had an audience that was tossing him a few pennies, and I recognized the friend I was visiting. "Hey!" I said. She looked at me and smiled, pointing at the boy. "The music he plays is wonderful. He says the keyboard was salvaged from his house, and a stranger gave him a twenty once."
The boy noticed me, and called everyone's attention. "That's the guy who gave me twenty dollars and priceless advice two years ago. Without him, I'd be sticking to picking pockets and hating myself for it." He shook my hand and said to me, "By the way, my name's Zachary. Thank you."
I almost cried right then and there.
Submitted by Anonymous