The old man, was trying his best to look dignified in his dirty T-shirt and khaki pants. He pointed to a left-over, half-eaten plate of rice on the table I had just occupied and asked if it was mine. He then proceeded to start eating them. But I think he felt rather embarrassed with me sitting there, and attempted to pour the rice into a plastic bag he was carrying, presumably to bring it home. I pressed some money into his palms and asked him to get some food to fill his stomach.
An octogenarian, with her cane and bent back, shuffling her feet with difficulty as she moves from table to table collecting tin cans to sell for a few dollars.
Sometimes, the crippled old man comes along, imploring you to buy 3 packets of tissue paper for a dollar.
But never once, have I seen these people beg. They go about trying to make their living, in the best way they can, in a quietly dignified fashion.
And these are daily scenes at the Redhill market, near the street where I live.
Postscript: I know welfare is a *dirty* word in our country, who assumes that giving out money with no strings attached to a disadvantaged, marginalised group of people will inevitably create a “crutch mentality”.
But sometimes, in public policies, a straightforward application of a principle, or a linear extension of an idea (i.e. welfare is bad) may not be best. There still must be some (safety) net of sorts to ensure that the old, even without dependents, are still being taken care of, so that they can live out the remainder of their lives without having to worry about when their next meal might come.