Boy's kindness helps homeless man

Uili Papalii was happy to give his food to Rob Millar. When he earned $5 pocket money for scoring...
Uili Papalii was happy to give his food to Rob Millar. When he earned $5 pocket money for scoring a try at the weekend he'd give that to Mr Miller too. Photo: NZ Herald

A South Auckland boy has plucked a homeless man from "the pits of despair" by giving him his lunch every day for two weeks.

It was only when the rough sleeper walked to school with the 11-year-old and told the boy's teachers that anyone found out what he was doing.

Uili Papalii couldn't walk past Rob Millar, who sits outside the Leabank Shops in Manurewa, when he saw him in tears a fortnight ago.

"I was just walking to school and I saw him cry. And I gave him my money and all my lunch. Then I just kept going back every week. He just became my friend."

Uili was happy to handover his homemade sandwiches, chips and fruit to Mr Millar. When he earned $5 pocket money for scoring a try at the weekend he'd give that to Millar too. He said it didn't matter as he would eat the free fruit at school.

Mr Millar was grateful for any help, Uili said.

"He said I was a good kid. He asked what school I go to. He said I look good in my uniform and he said God bless."

The free lunch came at a key time for Mr Millar. He was in the depths of depression after his marriage broke down and he had been homeless since the beginning of the year. He had lost his job as a painter and had not obtained a benefit yet.

Mr Millar was sleeping under bridges and in doorways until a month ago when a couple let him sleep in their car port.

The 59-year-old was desperate for any work, but believed people were reluctant to hire him because of his age.

"I was in the pits of despair and then Uili picked me up," Mr Millar said.

"If I could get a job I'd be there in a flash."

Uili's teachers at Manurewa Intermediate School celebrated his kindness with a gold award at assembly on Thursday. Mr Millar, Uili's dad and older brother attended the ceremony.

Mum Julianna Awhina Marsh-Papalii said the whole family was proud of Uili's kind actions. He is the third of seven siblings and they had all given him a pat on the back.

"It touched my heart so much. But I wasn't surprised because that's the kind of boy he is. He does have a heart for things like this.

"I always told them 'if you see someone in need, then give'."

The unlikely pair almost share a birthday. Uili turns 12 on Monday. He plans to bring some cake for Mr Millar's 60th birthday on Tuesday.

Uili said he would "definitely" do it again if he came across another person who needed help.

"Some people if they are homeless they might not have any food and they'll starve. We need to help."

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