Nobility in Benevolence

Apr 15 , 2023
By Eden Sahle

Last week my husband and I were invited to his aunt's house. We were at a loss for words as the glamorous accoutred reception, the long sequence of various cuisines and delicacies with several uniformed waitresses ready for service bid us welcome.

Looking through what we thought to be a family gathering, the guests in attendance caught my attention. It was far from an event organised for the ones that usually dress to impress but for homeless people who were insecure to sit on the sparkling white chairs with their stained clothes, while the groomed waitresses served them. The entire ceremony seemed to overwhelm the guests who were glancing at their surroundings in disbelief.

Homelessness is a problem many countries face, including Ethiopia. With no option for public shelter, many live on the streets vulnerable and exposed to addiction, violence and crime. The ability to dream of a better future is alien, as they are unaware of their next meal.

Poverty is cited as the main cause of people becoming homeless. They are victims of circumstances dragged into the life they did not choose. They usually need people who can empathize with them and offer some help. Unlike the privileged, homeless people must focus on survival- seeking a corner to spend the night. They are robbed of the stability and privacy a home provides.

Experiencing a grand treatment where they were not seated outside on the floor and not given leftover food was a foreign concept. They were not being mistreated but they were made guests of honour.

Seeing them overjoyed- from the young ones to the seniors was heartwarming. They were not in a position to return what was done for them, but the gratitude and blessing they were showering the hosts was priceless. The family says they inherited generosity from their late father, who fed the poor throughout his life.

Both the guests and the hosts savoured life. As they dined and chatted, their separating wall started to fray, forming friendships. The difference in their livelihood began to lose its boundary. It was remarkable to watch a community of the vulnerable become part of a family in a cosy home that united all.

I have observed the family was fulfilled by pursuing a noble act. Letting go of the self-absorbed life to often serve the most vulnerable part of society without expecting anything in return is true greatness—the rare ability to step out of the muck of societal competition and show compassion to the underprivileged.

Being there for the vulnerable gives a profound meaning. Depending on what meaning we choose to have in life, we will generate dignified actions that help inform and determine the future actions that will become extensions of ourselves.

Helping others is inherently within us. The tenderness we show others opens the doors to confront poverty, the most stubborn problem in this world.

Psychologists say chronic despair streams from poverty, which is far more common than war trauma. Poverty is often related to a higher rate of anxiety, depression, suicide and severe mental illness. With our finite time in this world, we must choose and prioritize meaningful actions. We must value helping the poor by sharing what we could offer to others. Giving connects us to others, strengthens community bonds, and helps create a collaborative society.

For generations, moral convictions strongly guided generous and compassionate behaviour. The importance of benevolent action appears to be a good strategy for personal happiness and growth. Having a definite goal in generosity works best for the giver as much as it does for the receiver. We will be able to take away the anguish, pain and struggle of others if we are willing to see through the lens of a struggling person.

PUBLISHED ON Apr 15,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1198]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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