November 23

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I’m just a beggar

Robert “Bob” Macauley, founder of AmeriCares (established in 1982), has provided billions of dollars of aid to needy people in crisis situations in countries around the world.

I read this interesting and inspiring anecdote about Bob in “His Name is Today – Bob Macauley and AmeriCares”, which I would like to share.

Someone once asked him what he did. To which Bob answered, “I’m just a beggar”. That’s all I do. But I learnt from the best – Mother Teresa”.

A few years before, Bob and Mother Teresa had been on a flight to provide help to a children’s home in Mexico City, Mexico. They were seated side by side, this powerful but small lady and this massive man in the coach section of a regional jet with about a hundred other passengers.
Shortly after the flight took off, the cabin attendants began meal service. When the attendant came to Mother Teresa, she held up her hand.

“How much does this meal cost?” she asked. The attendant said she didn’t know exactly but probably about $1 American.

Mother said, “If I don’t eat the meal, can I have the money for the poor?”

Surprised, the attendant did not know how to respond. She said she would have to ask someone. Dutifully, the woman went forward and reported Mother Teresa’s request to the pilot who then contacted the company representative on the ground.

In a few minutes, the attendant returned. “Yes, Mother, you may have the money for the poor”, she said.

Mother Teresa smiled and returned her tray. Bob immediately followed her example and returned his tray as well. In short order everyone on the plane followed suit, giving up their meals for people, who needed it more.

Bob thought they had done pretty well and he told her so as they landed. “We had made $129.”

She said, “Get the food, Bub” (She could never pronounce ‘Bob’). Bob asked what she meant and she said, “The airline can’t use the food now. Let’s get it so we can take it to the poor”. With some reluctance, Bob approached airline officials and repeated Mother Teresa’s request. To his surprise, they readily agreed. But Mother Teresa was not satisfied.

When he returned with the happy news, she just looked at him and said, “Get the trucks, Bub. We can’t deliver the food without the trucks”.

Bob could not beg for anything for himself. Even when he had no money and was borrowing everything, he still wouldn’t do it for himself. But if you are asking for someone else it is different. Bob learnt that from Mother Teresa.