The art of real generosity & kindness

Graph showing most generous nationsFor those of you who read my reasons why I’m not so impressed with Malta bagging the number 1 spot on the list of most generous countries, here is a follow-up. The story below happened to me a couple of weeks ago and will put our nation’s supposedly unparalleled kindness into perspective.

  Certain things (for want of a better word) seem to latch on to some people like a buttered sandwich to your freshly cleaned tiles. With some people it’s trouble, with others it’s gaffes…some other luckier ones get winning lottery tickets. You get the gist of what I’m saying. In my case it’s injured/orphaned animals.

I’ve had a lifetime of misadventures rescuing sundry animals ranging from snails on the pathway after a heavy rain to bigger creatures of the four-legged variety. There was even one famous incident where I carried a toad back home in my handbag, after I found one (inexplicably) just standing in the middle of the road during a dog walk. That day I discovered that no matter how placid a toad appears, convincing it to back into a handbag is no easy task. I also learnt that touching a toad feels extremely icky and that there’s no way I’m ever kissing one, no matter how princely the consequences might be.

All this rescuing happens to much resigned sighing from my loved ones, but this is by the by. The latest rescue attempt, which unfortunately lacks a happy ending, involved a small kitten that was dragging itself by the front legs in the middle of the main thoroughfare in Marsa during rush hour. It was a very pathetic sight, this little ginger mass with very obviously useless hind legs in the middle of one of Malta’s busiest roads. The most sickening part was not the way that it kept narrowly avoiding being hit, but the way everyone else on the road saw the kitten and kept on speeding towards it nonetheless.

Obviously I stopped my car on the side and leaped out in front of the traffic, making the traditional “halt” motions with my hands. And what do you know… everyone kept whizzing past me, missing me by inches every single time. It was almost surreal. It’s not just animals that Maltese drivers are prepared to mow down on the road, apparently. It’s also human beings. It took me about five minutes of frantic signalling before it was safe for me to actually bend down to pick up the kitten. By then I was shaking even with fear for myself so I just scooped her up willy nilly, got bitten badly in the process (and who can blame the cat?) and legged it to my car and off to the nearest vet’s, which happened to be the Blue Cross Clinic.

The kindness and dedication that the vet and the attendant showed was impressive. It almost made up for the callousness of the scores of drivers who were happy to run over a defenceless kitten and a human being to avoid interrupting their drive home. But not quite. Like I said, the story does not have a happy ending. A thorough examination revealed irreversible spine injuries and wide-spread paralysis (leading us to believe that the kitten had been hit by a car earlier and just left there) so unfortunately the vet had to do the kind thing.

However, I was impressed by how selfless the staff at Blue Cross proved themselves to be, by their immediate offer to keep the cat in recovery at the clinic if the examination were to yield happier results, how they refused to charge me a cent for any of the work. This was so totally unlike my experience at another clinic that supposedly offers “rescue” services that my faith in human nature was at least somewhat restored.

I leave you with this appeal: if you see an animal stranded in the middle of the road, or worse still injured, don’t look the other way. This, too, is part of what the Christmas spirit is all about.


And because I have received some rather dumb feedback  on the previous post;

  • I’m not saying donating to l-Istrina is wrong. I’m saying that donating an average of LESS THAN €10 PER PERSON (thanks Johann Fenech for doing the workings) does not entitle us to the keys to heaven/karmic nirvana.
  • I’m not saying we should not help those who find themselves in financial dire straits. I’m saying that as a nation we are desperately need of widening our idea of what constitutes charity to include tolerance, animal rights, volunteer work and other non-financial aid.

For those of you who want to see how it’s done, have a look at this.

This story was published on The TV Guide (The Times of Malta).



  1. Tingiza helwa says:

    Well said Ram.

    I am often perplexed by how people (especially foreigners) comment on the friendly nature of the Maltese, especially when they are being “makakki” and “sendikajri” (please excuse spelling). For example, the Maltese tend to be very friendly when they are trying to sell you something which is over priced. Also, apparently slowing down traffic, to see if you know who got involved in that car accident (but not actually stopping to help), constitutes as kindness…Who’d have known. And the farce and epitome of Maltese “kindness” is without a doubt – customer service. Where individuals who are PAID and TRAINED to be kind and helpful do anything but just that.

    And before anyone jumps at me, I am aware that there are companies/individuals that do not fit into what I’ve just said. However, they are just that, single entities – not the majority of a nation that donate money once a year to look good on telly.

    Again, kudos to anyone who donates, I prefer to spend some time with those individuals they show on telly to make the population feel guilty and as a colleague said “jtuni l-hlewwa tal-qalb” and make them feel that they are valuable human beings rather than adverts for whose got the worst condition.

    And is it just me or have we been reaching the million in old Maltese Liri more often since the first time during the tsunami when everyone was made aware that this money collecting business is a worldwide competition?

  2. Ros says:

    I agree with you Ram – whenever I question whoever-is-driving’s motives for not pulling over, they all tend to say that it would be too dangerous and may cause an accident. Short of taking over the wheel and causing them to crash myself, it is pretty helpless a situation, being merely the passenger.

    One other point I would like to mention is this – out of common courtesy to fellow humans who might be traveling down the same street as you – if you see a run over animal which is obviously dead, shouldn’t you alert someone to have the poor thing removed? Sometimes they’re too flattened to be a hazard, but other times, they are a danger to people who might be driving. A few years ago, after working my night shift, I happened to be traveling down the Tal-Barrani road where I see a big dog, clearly beyond the point of help, left in the middle of the road. A phonecall to the police station assured me that they would send someone to remove the animal. Didn’t take much – but not a lot of people seem to want to take the trouble.


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