A kind teacher lends a helping hand to an immigrant student and his family after spotting him doing homework on a cardboard sheet on the street. Years later, when she’s distraught and helpless, her kindness returns to her in the most unexpected way.
Mrs. Smith knew something was wrong with 7-year-old Miguel. He was one of her best students and a very dedicated and hardworking child. But lately, he was flunking his tests and no longer seemed focused on his studies.
Miguel was coming to school looking tired and famished, and Mrs. Smith couldn’t quite put her finger on what was wrong with the young boy. She knew his family had immigrated to America from South Africa, and she reasoned they were probably in some sort of trouble.
So one day, Mrs. Smith decided to talk to Miguel’s parents, but it was all for naught. His parents didn’t admit to anything being wrong with their lives until…she found Miguel on the street, sad and tired…
Mrs. Smith was walking back to her car after a long day at work and stopped in her tracks to see a tired Miguel on the streets. It took her a while to realize that the boy was sitting on a cardboard box with his homework spread out in front of him and studying.
“Miguel!” she cried, approaching him. “What are you doing here, darling?”
The boy squinted his eyes due to the sun’s rays as he looked up. “Mrs. Smith?” he asked. “I’m just finishing up my homework!”
Sometimes, the kindness you show others comes back to you when you need it the most.
“Here?” she gasped. “Out on the streets like this? Why? Where are your parents?”
Suddenly, she noticed the boy’s eyes well up. “They are not good…” he said sadly. “I can’t stay with them. We…we don’t even have a home anymore.”
Mrs. Smith was heartbroken as Miguel began sharing his story with her. He said that when they first arrived in the country, they were living with relatives who had recently kicked them out. His parents were now living in a shelter, but it was dreadful in every sense of the word.
Miguel didn’t have a desk or table to do his homework on in the shelter, and it was too noisy, so he did it on a cardboard box in the street and went back to the shelter only to sleep.
He said he couldn’t concentrate on his studies there and didn’t know where to go until he found a spot on the street behind the school.
“Mama and Dada make money with great trouble,” he said. “I have to study and do well. I need to help them.”
Mrs. Smith knew she had to do something to help her student. She asked Miguel to return to his parents at the shelter, promising she’d make arrangements for him to study.
And she followed through on her promise. She arrived at school early the next day and arranged a small desk in the back of her classroom for Miguel. She also got him extra school supplies and the permit to stay back after lessons and do his homework in the classroom.
Mrs. Smith decided to meet Miguel’s parents once his homework problem was resolved, unaware she’d discover another heartbreaking detail about the young boy’s life.
Miguel’s mother was deaf, and his father no longer had a job. The immigrant parents were overwhelmed with gratitude when Mrs. Smith told them how she had allowed Miguel to stay back at school after classes and helped him with his homework.
“It’s difficult for us here,” Miguel’s father, Mr. Nkosi, told her. “We don’t get jobs because they don’t want to hire us. I was cleaning the pavements outside a store until a week ago. I no longer have that job…”
“Mr. Nkosi,” Mrs. Smith said. “I can’t promise anything, but I can talk to the school principal and see if he can help your family. After all, your son, Miguel, is a very bright and talented student, and I don’t want a good kid like him to miss out on a brighter future.”
Mrs. Smith and her husband never had children, but her heart had always craved kids. Probably it was the lack of her own children that made her sympathetic toward Miguel.
So the next day, Mrs. Smith approached the school principal and told him about Miguel’s story. Mr. Randolph was moved, and he was eager to assist the young boy’s family. He contacted the school cafeteria committee right away, and Miguel’s mother was hired at the school cafeteria.
But despite helping the family, Mrs. Smith knew Miguel’s problems were far from over because he and his parents still didn’t have a proper home to live in. She knew she could provide them with shelter at her house and even suggested it to her husband, but he refused and was furious.
“They’re freakin’ immigrants! They might be just pretending to be helpless for all we know!” he snapped. “How gullible are you? How can you trust strangers?”
“Josh!” Mrs. Smith cried. “For God’s sake, stop discriminating against them. That kid…well, he is so bright, and his parents are very kind and gracious. They were so grateful to me when I told them about the small help I had given their child. You’re overreacting!”
“Overreacting?” he fumed. “You can’t tell the difference between generosity and stupidity! There are so many immigrant families in the country! Are you going to go and help everyone?”
“Well,” Mrs. Smith said calmly. “No. I’m afraid I can’t. But I know I can help this one family, and if I get the chance, I’m not going to let anyone—not even my husband—stop me! This is also my home, and they’ll be staying here. If you are not comfortable with them staying here, you can find a place at a friend’s house!
“Teaching is about treating everyone equally and helping people regardless of who they are or where they come from. It’s not only about reading books and passing on knowledge! It’s more about showing your students care and compassion, but you wouldn’t know because you’re not a teacher, Josh!”
She was crying when she felt a reassuring tap on her shoulder.
For Miguel’s family, Mrs. Smith was an angel who had turned their lives around. Not only did she help them stand on their feet, she also gave them a roof over their heads.
Mrs. Smith was praised at school for her good deeds, and her students learned a valuable lesson in empathy and kindness. She also aided the students in learning basic sign language to communicate with Miguel’s mother in the school cafeteria.
Little could they have guessed what awaited them…
Little Miguel was happy and so grateful to Mrs. Smith for everything she’d done. He was thankful to Mr. Smith, too, although he didn’t particularly like the Nkosis staying at the house.
But despite everything, things were going swimmingly for Miguel and his family. With Mrs. Smith’s help, the boy was able to focus on his studies and get his grades back on track. And he was overjoyed to have his own desk to do his homework on.
Years passed, and Mrs. Smith remained Miguel’s mentor and advocate, helping him achieve his goals. In the blink of an eye, the 7-year-old Miguel grew up, graduated high school, and it had been years since he and his family had moved out.
Mrs. Smith could never forget the Nkosis. They’d gained a special place in her heart, and she had no idea they’d cross paths again—at a time when she’d have no help, no hope in life.
Years after Miguel’s family left, Mrs. Smith’s husband left her for a younger Puerto Rican woman and sued her. Since their house was in his name, Mrs. Smith was on the brink of becoming homeless.
By then, she was retired, and her savings wouldn’t allow her to afford a lawyer. The poor woman was crying in a cafe one day, thinking she’d have to live on the streets because her life had come to an end, when she felt a reassuring tap on her shoulder.
“May I help?” a voice then asked her.
Mrs. Smith looked up and turned around. She couldn’t keep her tears at bay when she saw Miguel. He looked so charming, so different in a pristine suit.
“Oh, darling!” she sobbed, throwing open her arms and embracing him. “How have you been?”
“I’m so good, Mrs. Smith,” he said gratefully. “And it’s all because of you. What happened to you, though? Why are you crying by yourself? I was here for a client meeting, and there’s still time for it, so may I ask if I can help you?”
The poor teacher broke down as she told Miguel everything. “Well, let me help you then,” he said. “I’m a lawyer, Mrs. Smith. I pursued law after graduating high school, and it was all possible, thanks to you. You helped me when I needed you, so let me repay you.”
“But…” the older woman hesitated. “I’m afraid I can’t afford your fees, darling. I can’t.”
“I never asked for it, Mrs. Smith,” he assured her. “All I need is a little help from you to understand the case better and the legal documents your husband would’ve sent. May I visit you later today?”
Mrs. Smith couldn’t contain her tears.
“Angel…” she whispered. “You’re an angel…what do you call it? Yes, yes, the knight in shining armor!”
Miguel laughed. “Gee, I don’t know if I’d call myself that. Because you were my knight in shining armor when I needed you, Mrs. Smith. This is the bare minimum I can do for you.”
Miguel visited Mrs. Smith later that day, and he carefully studied the documents sent to her by the court. Since Mr. Smith had filed for divorce and Mrs. Smith was no longer capable of supporting herself, she was entitled to alimony.
Miguel represented Mrs. Smith in the court, and they won. He was not only able to get her alimony but also a rightful share of the assets. After the trial, however, Mrs. Smith was upset, even though her husband had lost, because she felt betrayed and hurt.
She couldn’t keep her tears at bay as she thought about how happy she’d been with her husband, although he wasn’t the best man. She reached into her purse to grab her handkerchief and suddenly felt something thick, like a box, in her hand.
Mrs. Smith pulled it out of her bag to see a brightly wrapped present. Opening it, she found a lovely necklace with a heart-shaped pendant inside.
“Did you like it?” asked Miguel, taking a seat beside her. “I made it for you…with my hands.”
Mrs. Smith couldn’t utter a word. Warm tears streamed down her gentle cheeks, and Miguel wrapped his arms around her and assured her that everything would be fine, that she would be fine.
But that wasn’t all. When Mrs. Smith and Miguel left the courtroom and walked out of the courthouse, she was surprised to see a brand new, expensive car pull up in front of them. Miguel’s parents got out of the car and handed the keys to her.
“This is from my family,” Miguel explained. “I just wanted to thank you for everything you did for my family and me years ago. I want to continue to help you in the same way you helped me when I needed it. Please.”
In tears, Mrs. Smith looked at Miguel’s family and then at the bright orange skies and the sun casting its glistening rays on them. Life wasn’t entirely bad, after all. She was surrounded by people who loved and admired her and cared for her.
So what if Josh wasn’t a part of her life? She could still be happy! Keeping that in mind, Mrs. Smith was inspired to start a new chapter in her life, and she knew there was no looking back from there.
What can we learn from this story?
Sometimes, the kindness you show others comes back to you when you need it the most. Mrs. Smith went out of her way to help Miguel and pull his family out of their misery. Years later, when she was in trouble and needed help, the young lad decided to stand up for her.
Treat everyone equally and lend a helping hand to someone in need. You’ll never regret it. Despite Mr. Smith’s objection, Mrs. Smith always treated Miguel’s family with love and never regretted doing so.
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