It all happened in a small village. Doesn’t these kinds of stories always happen in a small village? I’m just joking. In this small village, there lived a poor boy named Kato. And while most children are in school at his age, he was busy working on the street, doing anything he could to earn money for food.
With the earnings he made, he also helped his mother out with paying for rent. It’s a lot of responsibility for a young boy, yet Kato did what he had to do.
Sadly, Kato isn’t the only boy who’s working at such a young age. Over 152 million children are victims of child labor around the world, with 88 million of them being boys. While girls are more likely to undertake household chores, boys are usually leaving school to join the labor force. And unfortunately, Kato was living within that statistic. Whether it’s working in forced labor or begging, it’s not easy for a kid. It’s not easy for anyone.
One day, he couldn’t take it anymore. One day, while Kato was working, he became very tired and hungry. It was a hunger he couldn’t overcome; he needed something to eat badly. He looked in the direction of a bakery where they were selling warm and fresh buns. He headed to the bakery to buy some buns as a reward for his hard day at work. Upon walking into the bakery, he realized something – he only had one coin, and it wasn’t enough to buy buns with.
While his tummy was begging for food, he couldn’t buy any. Disappointed with his discovery, Kato left the bakery and headed back to work. But he couldn’t control his hunger; it was overwhelming.
He needed to eat something; his stomach was in pain from its emptiness. He had no choice; he had to ask someone for food. Though it wasn’t something he was comfortable doing, he didn’t want to beg for food; he wanted to pay for it himself. So after practicing what he was going to say, he knocked on the next door he saw.
He decided to try his luck with the first door he saw. He gave a couple of knocks and waited patiently. Though when it opened up, he realized he couldn’t do what he had intended to do. A sweet young girl opened the door.
He was nervous and not knowing what to do, asked for a glass of water instead of food. What a strange request – why would you knock on someone’s door for a glass of water? For the girl, she thought the request from the boy was strange and thought that maybe there was another reason why he asked for a glass of water. She decided that he must be hungry and, therefore, instead of giving him water, she brought him a glass of milk and a bun.
Kato was embarrassed but drank the milk and ate the bun. But he didn’t want to leave without paying her, so he asked her how much the milk and bun cost him. She was surprised by Kato wanting to pay her for the glass of milk and bun, so she told him, “You don’t owe me anything. My mother taught me to never ask for money.” He was touched and thanked her for her kindness.
When he left the house, he not only felt stronger, but he also felt his faith in humanity was restored. It was this small gesture that motivated him to continue reaching his dreams. For a boy who was working on the street to help his mother pay for food and rent, Kato had big dreams for himself. He dreamed of finishing school and becoming a successful person, so he could help his mother and the people around him who needed help.
Though the cards weren’t in his favor, Kato was determined to work hard and achieve his dreams no matter the cost. And it wouldn’t be until years later when Kato could repay the act of kindness shown to him. A young girl became severely ill, and local doctors were unable to figure out what was wrong as they never witnessed something like this before. Since they weren’t able to help her, they sent her to a large city where the best doctors examined her. However, no one was able to figure out what was causing her illness.
The doctor who was able to find out the reason for her condition was young doctor Kato. While going through the patient’s chart, he noticed her name and the village she was from. The moment he knew where she was from, he gained even more curiosity about the young girl. Kato decided to go see the patient himself.
While walking to her room, he was thinking about if this was the girl he thought it was. As he grew more excited, his steps were faster and faster. When his eyes met hers, he couldn’t believe it – in front of his eyes was the girl, the very girl who gave him milk and a bun when he needed it. Only this time, she wasn’t so young, and she wasn’t the one who was helping him. Now she was the one who was needing help to save her life.
He returned to the staff room, deciding he would do whatever he could to save her life. It looked like a sudden turn for the worst would put his generosity to the test. In the middle of the night, the doctor received a serious phone call – the young woman’s condition had gotten worse; she was barely hanging on to her life. Through endless work, the doctors were able to save her life, but she was still at high risk. Kato was anxious and rushed to the hospital the following day. He couldn’t lose this patient; she was the one person who helped him when he needed it most.
When he arrived, she was hooked up to several machines, showing him just how serious this illness was. Her skin was pale white, and her heart was beating so slowly it was hard for the machinery to trace it. A week had passed, and her condition didn’t improve at all. Though Kato didn’t want to lose hope, he was getting the feeling that nothing more could be done to help her. Everything they tried to do wasn’t working; it was time to make a hard decision.
As a doctor, you sometimes need to make difficult decisions, and this one he didn’t want to make, but he had no choice. She was basically at the end of her life, so he decided to end her life support. Before doing this, he sat down next to her, holding her hand while talking to her unconscious body.
He said that he knew how valuable her life was and that, whoever she was, he wanted to help her so badly as the young girl who once helped him did. Kato finished his speech to her and got up to leave.
As he was leaving, he saw the woman move her finger – it was the signal he was hoping to get all this time. After weeks of no response, he finally saw a glimpse of hope – it was clear she didn’t want to die either. That small finger movement showed him she was fighting for her life as well; she wanted to live. She simply needed his help.
From the second he saw her finger move, he was inspired to do whatever he could to bring her back to life. This was his time to do what he was hired to do – save lives. A week passed, and the head doctor suggested disconnecting her from the machines, as he believed the woman could not be saved.
The chance of her waking up was slim, and keeping her on life support was costing the hospital thousands of dollars. Kato begged for a couple more days to work with the patient in hopes of waking her up. He told the head doctor that his patient would wake up in a couple of days, even though he had no idea if that would actually happen. His request was approved, and the head doctor agreed to give him one more chance.
However, within a few hours, something miraculous happened – she woke up. After a long battle, she gained consciousness, and her illness was cured. But before she could leave, she had a hefty hospital bill to pay. If you’re not covered with health insurance, chances are your medical bill will be through the roof. Before the young woman could leave, she had to pay the hospital bill. Kato asked to see the bill before giving it to the patient and, with a smile on his face, wrote something on the bill before it was given to her.
One of the nurses gave her the bill, but needless to say, the young woman didn’t want to know how much she owed the hospital. If there’s one thing we all know, it’s that a hospital bill can be hundreds of thousands of dollars – unless you have insurance. Naturally, the young woman was fearful of what the amount would come to; if she had a big bill to pay, she could end up spending the rest of her life trying to pay it off, and who wants to know that not dying would cost more than being taken off of life support? She had to open up the bill eventually; she was not excited to open up the bill, but she had no choice if she wanted to go home.
However, when she opened the bill, she quickly noticed something strange. At the end of the bill, it said: “Paid by a glass of milk and a bun. Sincerely, Dr. Cato.” She was amazed. All this time, Dr. Cato was the boy to whom she gave a glass of milk and a bun years before. The hungry little boy ended up saving her life.
Realizing who Dr. Cato was, she couldn’t get over what he did for her. Overcome with emotion, she was crying tears of joy. She had only met him once, and their encounter was so brief that it’s amazing they both remembered the occasion. But that simple exchange between them was powerful enough for Cato to complete his dreams of helping others. More importantly, he was able to give back to the person who changed his life.
It may seem insignificant to many, but this was an act of kindness that saved her life. It’s not every day someone from your past comes and saves your life; this just goes to show you what a little bit of kindness can bring to someone’s life. In this case, the young woman was saved by his kindness, and that’s something she’ll never forget.
So it looks like the saying is right – a little kindness does go a long way. Kindness is a beautiful thing, and it’s certainly not something we see enough of. That said, after reading this story, it’s time to think about what you’ve done to help someone out.
The world can always use more kindness, and life is too short to be selfish. And maybe, after reading this, you’ll want to make a difference in your own community. Everyone can use a little bit of kindness. How are you going to spread it?