A man walks through the street, clutching nothing but his two small children and a loaf of bread.

It’s hard seeing a grown man cry. Especially one who is barefoot and carrying two small children and a loaf of bread.

Such was the case, though, on a dusty street in Cape Town, one sunny afternoon. As the man struggled to carry the bread and his two small boys, he couldn’t hold back his tears. He was tired and overwhelmed. And that’s when a stranger stopped him with a simple question.

“Why are you crying?”

Why One Man Was Crying in Public

At first, the man just shook his head; but the stranger was persistent. Finally, the man could hold back no longer.

“I’m struggling,” he said, as you can hear in this video that was posted to Facebook and YouTube. “Every day I do what I have to do. I love them so much, I would give them anything. I try my best.”

He was talking about his two children, who he hugged to his chest as he tried to catch his breath. The man worked down the street, but as was evident to the stranger and to those who saw him with a single loaf of bread that day, his salary wasn’t enough. 

“But why are you crying?” The stranger persisted. The man was yet unaware that the stranger represented a charitable organization in South Africa known for their random acts of kindness.

The stranger was trying to get to the heart of the man’s anguish. He knew that the man wasn’t crying over his long work hours or the few groceries that he had that day. There was more to it than that.

So he asked him again, “Why are you crying?” And this time, as the man looked down at his children, he understood.

“I want to give them more,” he said.

How One Stranger Proved the Importance of Empathy

The stranger expressed his sympathy and then told the man to sit down. And it was a good thing that he did, as what he was about to do shocked the father.

“I’ll do what I can just to show you that I care,” the stranger said as he began to hand the man cash. The stranger reached into his pockets over and over and gave the father what he could. 

The man was in shock. All he could reply at first was, “Are you serious? Are you serious?” As he calmed down, he thanked the stranger profusely. “Thank you, thank you, thank you so much,” he said through his tears, in disbelief.

But the stranger simply shook his head. “Don’t thank me,” he replied. “Just thank God.” He told the father not to despair because God loves him. He reassured the man that the money would help him provide for his family, even give them a Christmas to remember.

The Bi Phakathi Foundation states on its website that “the secret to happiness lies in helping others” and encourages people to do whatever they can to “spread sunshine.” Although it was sunny that day, the father of two couldn’t see it through his tears until a kind stranger helped him.