Alicia was enraged. She had arrived just in time to pick up her daughter from school, but Lia wasn’t among the children crowding the gate. Instead, she saw her little girl across the street sharing her lunch with a beggar and his two dogs.
Alicia did not get out of her car and asked her driver to take Lia to the vehicle. The little girl knew she would be in big trouble.
“Explain yourself!”, Alicia yelled at the top of her lungs once they were at the house. “What were you doing with that disgusting man and his disgusting dogs, Lia? How dare you do such a thing?”
“Mom, I… They were so hungry and sad that I gave them food,” the little girl whispered, avoiding her mother’s gaze.
“Look me in the eye when I talk to you, Lia!” shouted Alicia, and Lia quickly looked up at her.
“You’re not going to help them anymore. Do you understand that?”
“Mommy, but…but they were so sad, and I’m sad too when I’m hungry….,” the little girl replied.
“Lia!”, Alicia shouted again.
“No means no! Oil and water don’t mix! If you want to help that beggar again, you can go live with him! Do you want to live on the street and be hungry?”
The little girl got scared and started to cry.
“I’m sorry, Mom. I won’t do it again. Please don’t leave me on the street.”
“Good! Now go back to your room!” her mother ordered, and Lia ran to her room in tears.
The next day, when Lia went to school, she saw the beggar and his dogs again. She had promised Alicia not to share her food with them, but her good heart decided otherwise.
“Hey!” she said as she approached the beggar. “My mom told me not to share my food with you, but I can’t do that”.
“It’s okay, little miss,” the beggar said with a kind smile. “You don’t have to disobey your mother.”
“No, no…I can’t let you starve. My teacher says we have to help everyone who is in need. So… I have a plan!” she exclaimed. She told the beggar to meet her every day with her dogs behind the school and began secretly sharing her lunch with him.
But one day, the beggar was waiting for Lia, and she didn’t come. He thought she wouldn’t come, so he was about to leave. But just then, one of his dogs ran across the street.
“Ted! ” cried the beggar, running after his dog. “Come back, boy! You’ve got to come back!”
But the dog didn’t stop until he reached the bench where Lia lay unconscious. Her backpack was on the floor, and her phone was next to her.
“Oh, little miss! “, the beggar shouted. “Are you okay? Please open your eyes!”, but Lia did not wake up.
The beggar immediately dialed 911. Fortunately, Lia’s phone was not locked. Soon after, the little girl was rushed to the hospital, and the beggar accompanied her.
He was waiting outside her room, hoping she was okay. Suddenly, he heard a loud voice behind him.
“Where is my daughter? What happened to her?” the little girl’s mother shouted.
He turned around and saw a woman storming into the hospital. He guessed she was Lia’s mother, and well, he was right.
“I can’t believe it!” she shouted at the top of her lungs as she approached him. “You’re that beggar, aren’t you? What have you done to my daughter? Oh my God! You stink!” she complained, pinching her nose.
“Ma’am,” the beggar said politely. “I – I didn’t hurt her. She was…”
“Oh, shut up! I know people like you too well! You’re too lazy to work and you want to live off other people’s hard-earned money! Doctor! Where’s the doctor?” she yelled.
Alicia created a scene in the hospital, and she wouldn’t even listen to the staff members. Then a doctor came out of Lia’s room and told her she was in the wrong.
“This is a hospital, ma’am. Can you please keep your voice down?” he told her rather stiffly. “Your daughter has regained consciousness, and she is fine. A case of heat stroke… Your daughter was brought here just in time, and you have this man to thank for that,” he added, pointing to the beggar.
“What? He took…” she asked.
“Yes,” the doctor confirmed. “He saved your daughter’s life.”
Alicia was in tears. She was too embarrassed to look at the beggar. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, “I – I didn’t know you helped my daughter…”
“It’s okay, ma’am,” the beggar said with a kind smile. “I’m glad your daughter is okay. I think you should go see her. I’ll go now.”
“Thank you,” she said, holding his hands. “I’m sorry for what I said. Lia means more to me than anything. Thank you for saving her life.”
“Everything is fine. Your daughter has a good heart, and she helped me a lot. It was the least I could do for her,” the beggar assured Alicia before leaving.
But Alicia felt bad. Very bad. She was very ashamed that she did not understand that there was a kind person behind the homeless man. She was so adamant that she hadn’t realized that behind the homeless man was a kind person. Alicia knew she had to make amends.
The next day, the beggar was at his usual spot when a car pulled up next to him. Lia got out of the car and hugged him.
“You can live with us now! Mom said we can take your dogs too!”
“Hi,” Alicia appeared behind Lia. “I’m sorry about the way I treated you,” she told the beggar. “I was wondering if you would like to work for us. I wanted to hire someone to drive Lia to school every day. I have another driver, but he is not always available. I will also provide your housing.”
The beggar had tears in his eyes. “Thank you,” he said. “I’ll do my best.”
So the beggar, Fred, and his two dogs, Ted and Sam, had a home and a little family who loved them. Lia loved spending time with him and his dogs, and Alicia changed her mind. She learned to respect people, no matter their background or status.