Today I met Jola. She was standing there modestly with her coloured scarves wrapped around her body against the biting New York wind. She smiled at passers-by and held up a sign saying “PLEASE HELP ME”.

From behind the café window I could watch her closely and saw how people on the street ignored her sign. I wanted to talk to her. Jola’s smile had something heartwarming and honest.

We first talked like two women do; we talked about the way we looked, getting older, our physical appearances. She suggested to me I should wear braces. She liked the way I looked, but didn’t like my teeth.Then she told me she was from the Philippines and came many years ago to work in the United States. She used to work for an American firm which went bankrupt not long ago; she lost her job and as a result was never paid. This happened just before she wanted to retire, everything she had saved up for had gone. To prevent herself from getting more debts, she chose to beg for money in the street. She had undergone a breast operation but the bill had not arrived yet. Jola said she believed that everything will be fine in the end. God will help her, she said.