I posted this on Semkee/Seeds on October 23, 2012. I am still helping out the babula’s at the market! They are some of my favorite people here!
I have an informal little “babulya” ministry at my local market. “Babulya” means “grandma” and unfortunately there are quite a few of these ladies haunting the markets and asking for money to live on.
These ladies have always touched my heart because they are one of the most vulnerable groups of people that the Bible talks about and that God asks us to help. Most are widows and do not have families to help them. In a society that overlooks the vulnerable, they do not have enough money to live on. Therefore, they must beg.
I noticed that one woman was particularly spry and I had seen her in various places on the streets of Kyiv as well as the market. She seemed very kind and was always talking to people and getting to know them. One day, I started to talk to her. I’m not going to share her personal details because this post is on the internet and she’s living in a vulnerable situation. I do want to share her perspective on her situation. It’s so easy to walk past people on the street and stereotype them or to look away because there’s really nothing we can do to change their situation. I cannot possibly address all the needs around me that I see everyday. I am only one person. But in taking the time to talk to her, I could tell that she was lonely so I made it a point to not just give her some money but to have a little conversation with her as well.
Sometimes people give these babulyas things to sell for money so they don’t have to beg outright. You might find them selling matches or some odd little gadget at the side of the market.
One day this babulya gave me a bag full of paper plates and plastic forks. Someone had given the utensils to her and she wanted me to take it to our Day Center for the children to use. I had told her about the children I work with and she always asked about them. She said she thought we could use them and believe me, we used them. It was a thoughtful gift.
I saw her quite a bit last week and as I talked to her, I could see her brain clicking and that she was trying to figure out what she could give to me.
The next time I saw her she told me, “I want you to know that I am so worried about those poor children and I don’t have anything to give you, so I went to the church and prayed for them.”
We always have something precious to give to someone less fortunate.