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Case Study, April 2007

Ask the Genie - Omar, Danni and the black socks

Gifts can mean more than their material worth. For families and young people with little money, a simple gift can show more than just the thought of good will, it can represent a much deeper love and respect. Read our case study on young man who is transformed by a very simple gift.

Every month we analyse a new problem. Comments are welcome!

Case Study for April 2007
Omar, Danni and the black socks

Background: Omar is a 23 year old who lives at home with his parents, older brother and little sister Danni. Omar's father Asoud has been out of work since a back injury but the family gets by with the two boys in work. Fifteen year old Danni works part-time at McDonalds and babysits the neighbour's children after school. There was no money for Omar or his brother to go to university so they found jobs in construction straight out of school. Omar is fearful of ending up like unemployable like his father and has done a certificate course in Management in the hope of finding a job that does not rely on his physical strength. Recently a foreman's position became vacant in the company that Omar works for. He applied but was not successful. So when Danni badgers him to make a wish list for his 24th Birthday he puts "a new job" at the top of the "things that money can't buy" section. He has been feeling down and can't get excited about his birthday but he fills in a few "favourites" to make Danni happy.

The Gift: The night of Omar's Birthday we find him stretched out on his bed staring into space. He knows that he is a hard worker and a good son to his parents but it does not seem to be getting him anywhere. He works with a friendly bunch of guys who bought him a beer after work. His mother made him his favourite spicy dish for dinner. It was a real effort to look as if he was enjoying any of it and he is not sure that he even managed to look happy when his family gave him the usual collection of toiletries and underwear. Danni's eyes sparkled with confidence when she presented him with a beautifully wrapped package that contained 5 pair of black socks. "To wear to your new job!" she said as she hugged him.

The Problem: Omar's mood is depressed due to frustrated ambition. He had expected to be on his way to a career by the age of 24 and in spite of his best efforts he has not made progress. His birthday is a milestone that reminds him of his frustrations and gets in the way of his sharing the love that comes his way.

The outcome: The next day Omar shrugs off his despondency. He picks up the package of black socks that he dropped on the floor last night and for the first time notices that they are very good quality fine cotton. It would have cost Danni the best part of two weeks working at McDonalds to afford such a gift. Danni has unlimited confidence in him. Omar decides to try harder. He checks out job agencies and looks in the newspaper for jobs in management. At first he is lacking in self confidence but after the first four or five interviews he has a better understanding of what is involved and presents himself more effectively. It takes a month or two but Omar finds a new job. It's a steep learning curve for a few more months before Omar finally feels secure. Even though his take home pay has barely increased, in fact he misses the penalty rates in his construction job, Omar is happy to be going in a new direction. When Christmas approaches and he is updating his wish list he looks at his last entry and enjoys a moment of quiet satisfaction. He has given himself a gift that money can't buy.

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