On answering cries for help

On my last entry, Oluwadee our newly married blogger, left the following comment:

Since i put my email addy on my blog, I have been getting a lot of emails asking for my help. I dont bother reading them.

and I think I’m going to follow her lead.

While I can tell a reader not to heed the sob tale of some guy she’s corresponding with who’s likely trying to scam her, when it comes to me, I am not immune to falling for what might be a scam, or at least feeling like I have to do something.

In my email reply to the guy I mentioned in the last entry, I told him the following:

I feel sympathy for you and your family, and although I cannot provide you with the help you seek, I will help you in the way that I can, by praying for you and asking on my blog for people to pray for you.

Granted, my experience with what life as an adult is like in Africa is limited (although he’s Nigerian he and his family are not in Nigeria at the moment), so the suggestions I offered him may not be useful, but I thought they made sense. They would not provide a quick fix to his problems, but could at least get him into a position where is able to find employment and support his family.

He was appreciative of my email but wanted me to do more. He wanted a sponsor. The email he sent bordered on trying to induce guilt on my part and I hate being guilted into anything, or in this case, made to feel like I am responsible or could potentially be responsible for the outcome of the life of somebody who happened to find my email address, so I had to be direct and even harsh in my one-line response:

Unfortunately I cannot help you any further. I wish you all the best in your work. Please do not contact me again with such a request.

Though I know it is the right thing to do given how little I know of what is actually going on and what I know of my own situation, there is always that part of you that feels you could do more and should do more. Anyone ever felt like this?

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15 thoughts on “On answering cries for help

  1. Unfortunately I haven't read ur last entry, but I usually don't pay those randoms emails any mind…I don't have that kinda time…plus more often than not they r looking 4 financial help, and I ain't the world bank, if they ain't looking 4 money, ur prayers will suffice…

  2. umm I am second. Please dont reply to these scam emails. I usally write them a scathing letter telling them that they are the ones giving Nigerians a bad name. Hehehe

  3. I HAEV A COPY AND PAST…. "NIGERIAN 419" ….THAT I SEND EVERYTIME AS REPLY.

    SOMETIMES THEY UNDERSTAND AND LEAVE MY ADDRESS ALONE.

    IT IS FUNNY TO NOTE; MOST OF THE ADRESSES I USE ARE EASILY TRACABLE TO IGBO NAMES,BUT THESE GUYS CONTINUE TO INSIST ON TRYING TO FOOL THEMSELVES NOT ME.

    HAVE A NICE SUNDAY.
    http://www.chukbyke.blogspot.com/

  4. The sad thing is that those mails, have tarnished the name of Nigerians, sad to say…

    I have received such mails too and like OLUWADEE I don't read them at all… The worst thing to do I suppose is to start reading and having a dialog with these people just avoid them… OPRAH had a show about women in the USA sending money coz of something like that…and she said dont have a DIALOG coz once you do you are hooked….

  5. Hmmm…. I think I agree. Don't even get into a conversation. I like the way you firmly responded as he tried to guilt you into "helping" him.

    Yes I've felt like I should give more or do more, but that would only be possible when/if I actually have. Because of the extent of corruption in Nigeria I've decided that when the time comes for me to "give back,' I'll be very very hands-on with my giving, to ensure that it goes towards the purpose it was intended.

  6. I have found myself in several situations when I said no and I felt a bit guilty afterwards…but I like what you did…nobody should make you feel guilty. He is not your responsibility.

    However, if there is a way you can find out the real status of things from his end, then you will know if this his need is genuine and to what extent you can help…like talking to others to assist him.

  7. Wow, I've never received such emails like that..maybe they know who to contact (those with the big bucks) Im kidding oh. Just ignore them..and you should not feel bad. If you feel bad..go to a soup kitchen or volunteer to assist the REAL needy in your community and i am sure that guilt would fly away fast fast.

  8. when i get emails like that i dont bother replying…cuz i don't want to get hooked. the best u can do is what u have done alread…pray for him. Pls if he emails you again do not reply him…i beg u…like Rita said he is not ur responsibility.

  9. Thank you everyone. I guess it's instinctive for me to answer emails that don't seem to be cut and paste and of the typcial 419 variety and seem more personal, but I won't from now on.

    I like the idea of giving back in a hands-on way (archiwiz) after verifying that the need is genuine (Rita) or volunteering where I am (FemiB)—thank you!

    Good point afrobabe and bumight: the fact that he found my email out of the blue, someone I don't know, probably means his intentions were not good to begin with.

  10. 'tis simply nauseating when i get such mails. I do not dignify them with a response.

    Pray tell why Nigerian (unfortunately so) will always go out to belittle our people (continually too)?

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